Cut tram line cost 191,000

Nearly 191,000 euros have been spent on laying down metal rails for a crucial section of the new Athens tram that was scrapped last week for fear of lurking antiquities, the project managers admitted yesterday. Tram SA, a subsidiary of state-controlled Attiko Metro, also set the cost of carrying out alterations to the route in the central Athens triangle surrounding the Temple of Olympian Zeus at 2.05 million euros. The 346-million-euro tram, scheduled for completion in spring 2004, will run from Syntagma Square to the southern coastal suburbs. The decision to remove one side of the triangle – between Vassilissis Olgas and Kallirois Streets – was announced last Thursday by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who alleged the cost would be set off by money saved on not building the Amalias Avenue line. Yesterday, the ministry said the 550-meter-long line was abandoned because the act of laying shock-absorbent materials under the rails to protect the Roman Arch of Hadrian would have necessitated excavations extensive enough to fully block traffic access to Amalias Avenue.