NEWS

Facelift for 2004 at old urban railroad stations in Athens

The 72-year-old Omonia Square urban rail station that serves 150,000 commuters on a daily basis is to have a facelift that nevertheless aims to retain its prewar style. The Culture Ministry has declared the station a heritage site, leading to a review of the design, and work has begun to transform the station. All the old German tiles will be replaced on the walls, with others covering the grimy concrete platforms. Lighting is also to be improved, with additional lighting installed in parts of the station where the ceilings are higher. The project, designed by architect Dimitris Kontargyris, is budgeted at 2.4 million euros and completion is expected by the end of the year. The station will remain open for the duration of the project. At the same time, the rail company (ISAP) has made 250 parking places available in nearby Athinas Street, in an 11-floor building right next to the company’s administrative building. Transport Minister Christos Verelis announced on Tuesday that changes scheduled at other ISAP stations would be finished by the end of next year. All 21 stations will be ready by the time the Olympic Games begin in 2004 at a cost of nearly 239 million euros, which includes the cost of aesthetic and functional renovation, new digital signals and the purchase of new wagons. Of this amount, 89 million euros is to come from the Third Community Support Framework and another 150 million from the Public Investment Programs. The changes are expected to produce only marginal increases in travel speeds, but will bring extra departures and better signals. Company officials say that train speeds could be speeded up considerably, but the goal was to keep energy costs down. So the journey time from Piraeus to Kifissia will be reduced by just three minutes, from the current 51 minutes to 48 minutes. An Athens court yesterday gave life sentences, compounded by another 25 years in jail, to two men found guilty of the murder of a flower-shop owner during a robbery in April 1999, along with a catalog of crimes including other robberies and the supply of drugs. Andreas Legakis told the court his original confession to fatally shooting Michalis Goulis in the latter’s Athens flower store was actually a lie to cover co-defendant Dimitris Keramydas, who, he claimed, was the real killer.