The extension of the metro and Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway’s operating hours on weekends will become a permanent feature of Athenian life after a successful pilot scheme, it was announced yesterday. The two-month trial run was declared a resounding success by Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis, as up to 29,000 passengers per night used both modes of public transport. «From now on, we should only expect a rise in passenger numbers,» said Hatzidakis. The pilot scheme saw the timetables of the metro and railway extended by two hours on Friday and Saturday nights, meaning that trains were running until after 2 a.m. Hatzidakis presented the results of a survey which showed that the majority of Athenians questioned were in favor of extending public transport hours on the weekend. In the 18-44 age group, 95 percent of respondents said that they supported the move to extend the metro and railway timetables. The longer metro and electric railway hours on the weekends have also helped to ease traffic congestion in central Athens when many residents drive into the city center for a night out. Simos Simopoulos, the Transport Ministry’s general secretary, said data showed that weekend traffic in central Athens after midnight has dropped by up to 8 percent. Meanwhile, Hatzidakis revealed that Line 1 of the metro between Ethniki Amyna and Athens International Airport would be shut for six months from July 1 so that three new stations can be completed. The closure of this part of the line is expected to cost metro operator AMEL 4.5 million euros in lost income. Details of possible replacement bus services for commuters who use the stations that will be out of service were not made public.