ATHENS – Vaunted plans for a high-speed train inauguration for Greece’s slow-rolling system missed a March 25 launch set to coincide with the 200th anniversary of independence from the Ottoman Empire, still sidelined.
It will be at least until the end of April before it goes into operation after being brought from Italy by the private operator Trainose, taken over in 2017 by the Italian company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane.
The company said the train’s start was delayed because of restrictions on travel and low passenger numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that the 600-seat ETR 470 is ready to go once higher-capacity travel is allowed.
The train is expected to reduce the trip between Athens and the northern port city of Thessaloniki to three hours and 15 minutes from the current four hours, said Kathimerini, and even less once the rail network is upgraded.
That likely won’t happen until the summer of 2022 or longer although even then the high speed train that can go 200 kilometers (124 miles) per hour will be limited to 160 kilometers (99 miles) because of the poor rail bed.