Greece’s railway network is collapsing after the floods in September destroyed most of it, the companies in charge have been left without substantial income and the Hellenic Train seeks to renegotiate its contract with the Greek state and eventually also seek compensation for the revenue loses..
The track lines have been destroyed in most of the country, there are no routes, there are no tickets and no state subsidy, reports daily efsyn.gr
● The Italian management of Hellenic Train, under the threat of huge compensations amounting millions of euros for the Tempi train collision that cost the lives of 57 people and the injuries of around 200, is considering measures to reduce labor costs, while its 1,000 workers are preparing for protest mobilizations.
Decimated, the Greek railway is living hours of great anxiety. With no lines to run the largest part of the network, no ticket revenue and not even the intended government subsidy
Before the train disaster at Tempi end of February, the Hellenic Train was surviving on a combination of a government subsidy of 50 million euros a year and revenue from passenger and commercial routes of up to €70 million.
According to official estimates, it will take at least two years to restore service on the Lianokladi-Larissa stretch of the national rail network connecting Athens to the northern port city of Thessaloniki after it was severely damaged in floods caused by Storm Daniel, reports daily kathimerini.com.
The Athens-Thessaloniki route, meanwhile, represents around 60% of the Italian company’s annual turnover in the Greek market, with the latest expected losses coming on top of the effects of the deadly rail crash at Tempe in February.
While an official request has not been submitted yet for a renegotiation of the terms of the contract signed between the subsidiary of Italy’s state-owned Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane and the Greek state – which sold its operator, TrainOSE, in 2017 – it is considered almost a certainty in light of recent developments.
The developments are also causing serious concern among the more than 1,000 workers employed by Hellenic Train, who are bracing for the possibility of redundancies or cuts in working hours and, therefore, salaries.
It is a paradox that the entities that were subsidized, such as the highway companies, the intercity bus service KTEL and the airlines, are the ones that mainly benefit from the decimation of the Greek railway, efsyn reports.
Especially on the Athens-Thessaloniki route, KTEL bus routes have already increased from 9 to 13 per day, the prices of air tickets have increased up to 150 euros for the one-way route, while it will take some time for figures to emerge regarding toll collections.
At the same time, whoever visits Hellenic Train to look for a ticket, will see that the Athens – Thessaloniki routes are made by train to Lianokladi and then by bus, with a total journey time of over 7 hours (compared to 5.45′ by KTEL).
In practice, regular train routes only operate on the Athens Suburban (to Airport, Kiato, Chalkida) and from Thessaloniki to Litochoro. The entire northern axis towards Florina and Alexandroupoli is closed until its maintenance is given with a PPP, which has been in the works for months.
Has the Greek government decided that the privatization of the railway operation has failed and is trying to push the Italian Railways off the rails? To this question, the answer could be positive if we were dealing with a normal state (the Greek one) and a private company. In this case, neither applies.