Boost to Thessaloniki transport

Thessaloniki’s long-awaited metro system – one of several projects aimed at easing congestion and improving public transport in the northern port city – will be completed by 2015, the government pledged yesterday. Following meetings with local officials and representatives of the company constructing the 9.6-kilometer line, which will have 13 stations, Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yiannis Magriotis said that the work would take less than five years. He claimed the project would either be finished by the end of 2014 or by mid-2015. It is estimated that the metro, which will cost about 1.5 billion euros, will allow at least 250,000 journeys per day. However, its construction has been repeatedly held up in recent months due to technical problems. Magriotis assured locals that the government has guaranteed that the funds to complete the scheme will be earmarked despite Greece’s economic crisis. That commitment is likely to be of some comfort to Thessaloniki residents, who have been assured several times over the past two decades that they would get a metro system. In 2003, PASOK’s then Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou had pledged that the city would have a metro network up and running by 2008. The tender for the project had been awarded back in 1992. There was another boost for commuters in the northern port on Sunday when another deputy infrastructure minister, Spyros Vougias, said that the government would encourage projects to build a tramline from the city’s outskirts to its railway station and to encourage the use of a form of sea bus in the Thermaic Gulf. «This coming week, we will begin two processes: the launch of a tender for a private company to provide sea transport and a study into the possibility of constructing a tramline that will run along Vassilissis Olgas and Tsimiski streets.»

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