OPINION

Rail debts put country at risk

Within the next two years alone, the debts of the Hellenic Railways Organization are forecast to skyrocket by 5.4 billion euros, an amount that is equal to approximately 11 aid packages for the poor, such as the 500-million-euro plan recently announced by the government for this purpose, but which it now says will not go ahead because the money is not there. One can only wonder how the state sets its priorities, especially at such times of uncertainty. Investment in the country’s railroad service is of course useful but behind the 12.1 billion euros in debt that Hellenic Railways will have incurred by 2010 there is a lot of wasted money that could have gone toward the future of some other useful organization. Before the debt climbs even higher, the government must move ahead – and do it fast – with reforming the country’s railroad network. Routes that carry just three or four commuters and those serving just a handful of interests must be stopped. The country is on the threshold of a difficult financial period and debts at state-run organizations only serve as a catalyst to the crisis.