Tram to roll on toward Piraeus

Commuters will be able to ride the tram all the way to Piraeus by 2011, Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis announced yesterday, effectively putting an end to years of wrangling over whether this particular form of public transport would be extended to the port. Local officials and residents of Piraeus had, for the last four years, largely opposed plans for the tram to run through their district, as they had pushed for the metro system to be extended instead but Hatzidakis was adamant yesterday that construction on the 125-million-euro tram project would start next year. The minister said that a tender would be launched in January and that the contract would be signed in May so that work could begin a couple of months later. The project will see a loop created between Neo Faliron, where lines 3 and 4 currently terminate, and Piraeus. There will be seven stops for trams traveling from the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Neo Faliron to Piraeus, a distance of 3.1 kilometers, and five stops on the way back, which covers 2.3 kilometers. On the way to Piraeus, one of the stops will be at Olympiakos’s Karaiskaki Stadium, where commuters will be able to change to conect with the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP). In the other direction, there will be a stop at Kaminia, where a new ISAP station will also be built. Hatzidakis also unveiled a 65-million-euro plan to make most of the section of the electric railway between Neo Faliron and Piraeus underground, which would allow for the creation of a new station. The cost of both the tram extension and the ISAP works will largely be funded by the European Union. There are plans to continue extending the tramline westward so that by 2013 it reaches Perama. According to Tram SA, the public company responsible for running the mode of transport in Athens, officials have also held talks about bringing the tram to Ioannina, Patras and Volos. In fact, engineers are expected to complete a feasibility study in Ioannina next month, while authorities in Patras have selected a company to conduct the survey. Meanwhile, it was also announced yesterday that trams on Line 3 would be terminating at the Kolymvitirio stop rather than Asclepieio Voulas for the next 20 days due to maintenance work that needs to be carried out.

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