OSE to cut some 35 costly routes

The Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) is planning to suspend the operation of at least 35 underused routes around the country believed to be burdening the debt-ridden state by some 3 million euros a day, sources said yesterday. According to a written statement by TRAINOSE, a subsidiary of OSE that is responsible for the organization’s railway itineraries, dozens of loss-making routes are due to be discontinued imminently. These include several routes in the Peloponnese linking the cities of Patra, Pyrgos, Kalamata, Messini and Olympia. Many more routes in northern Greece, connecting the cities of Thessaloniki, Serres, Alexandroupoli, Edessa and Kozani, will have their weekly itineraries drastically reduced. OSE itself had not issued an official statement by late yesterday to confirm the exact routes that will be affected and the date the changes are to come into effect. In a related development, a fresh rift appeared to open up amid the ranks of ruling PASOK yesterday as Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas said he was opposed to the privatization of the ETHEL blue bus company as part of a broader initiative spearheaded by Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou to sell off – partially or wholly – loss-making state companies in the transport sector. Speaking from Thessaloniki, where he had gone to inspect the progress of works for a metro system for the northern port city, Reppas said he was in favor of streamlining ETHEL but against privatization. «If some other minister or any of the prime minister’s advisers has a different opinion, we respond with a resounding ‘no,’» Reppas said. In what many commentators interpreted as a swipe at Papaconstantinou, Reppas remarked that tax evasion was the biggest drain on state revenues and should be the focus of the government’s cutbacks.

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