The Corinth Canal will reopen for ships in July, the Hellenic Corporation of Assets and Participations SA (HCAP) said on Wednesday. The reopening will be temporary, though, over the summer and will shut down again for a few months in autumn in order to complete repair works and stabilize the banks.
In a statement on work progress on the Canal, the public company said that improvements instituted by managers Corinth Canal SA in July will include a “new dynamic portal and e-commerce services, high-quality personalized services, online notification (arrival/transit), and online ticketing.”
A new tugboat, the “Vergina” will be able to expand the existing fleet’s services of towing during transit through the canal to towing and assistance with safe handling during docking of merchant vessels at the ports of Corinth, Kiato, Thisvi, Kalamaki and Sousaki, all in the greater Corinth Canal region.
Fencing along the canal and construction of a 3.5km paved footpath will be initiated within 2022, with the support of the Peloponnese Region.
“These projects will change the face of the region, further enhancing it aesthetically and giving visitors safe access to the canal,” HCAP said.
In the fall, when ship traffic is limited, the Canal will shut down for a few months for the second phase of the project, completing works to mitigate landslides and stabilize the banks.
The entire project also includes dredging to remove debris from landslides, a pile wall to protect the foot of the canal’s banks, and Construction of all surface water regulation and run-off projects.
According to data provided by HCAP (2019), 11,417 vessels transited the Corinth Canal, an increase of 7.5%, with 55% of transits related to tourism, “a fact that highlights the importance and potential of the project for the wider region following the repair works.”
The channel is used by all kinds of vessels, from small tourist craft to large merchant vessels, cruise ships and tankers. For cruise ships in particular, sailing through the Canal is one of the great travel experiences.
In addition, the passage serves as the shortest and safest sea route for vessels coming from Ionian, Adriatic and Southern Italian ports, as well as for ships passing through the Strait of Messina and heading to ports in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea (and vice versa).
Traveling from Patras to Piraeus via the Canal takes a vessel 100 nautical miles, but with the Canal shut, a vessel is obliged to sail around the Peloponnese and cover 295 nautical miles.