2004 train not affected

The Council of State’s decision to annul plans to build part of Athens’s suburban railway will not affect the 2004 Athens Olympics, organizers insisted yesterday. «The section from the airport to the railway hub in (the northwestern suburb of) Menidi is not affected at all, and this is what we are interested in,» a spokesman for Athens 2004, the Games’ organizing committee, said yesterday. The Council of State accepted a petition by the municipality of Athens against part of the route that was to run along existing tracks in western Athens areas, from Aghios Ioannis Rendis in the southwest to Aghioi Anargyroi in the northwest. The municipality argued that the State ought to stick to original plans to submerge the route and that a surface railway would degrade the environment and cut off the city from its western suburbs. News of the decision, which has not been officially published, came on the eve of yesterday’s arrival of the International Olympic Committee’s Coordination Commission, which oversees the preparation of the Games. Commission President Denis Oswald has placed great importance on transport infrastructure which would help the congested city function effectively during the Games. Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who met Oswald yesterday, said that «the general conclusion (of the talks) is absolutely positive,» adding that all projects will be completed on schedule and according to Olympics specifications. Costas Kartalis, general secretary for the Games at the Culture Ministry, told IOC officials that the government was working to change specifications along the lines of the court’s decision. However, Transport Minister Christos Verelis said in a radio interview yesterday that the decision meant that the particular section of the suburban railway will not be completed on time. On the other issue of major concern, accommodation, IOC officials were assured that there would be no shortage of rooms for sports officials and the media. Coordination Commission official Gilbert Felli said that a year ago, he had not thought this would be possible.