It was June 2006 when the consortium AEGEK IMPREGILO-ANSALDO TSF-SELI-ANSALDOBREDA started the construction of the Thessaloniki Metro.
Three years earlier, in September 2003, it had been decided to build the Thessaloniki metro as a public project, with funding from the Greek State and the European Union.
The construction started with great enthusiasm, but nothing predicted that the project, which was a long-standing request of Thessaloniki, would have so much difficulty.
Significant archaeological findings, modifications in the construction, but also the financial crisis that caused a change in the contractor – with the company “AKTOR” continuing the project – resulted in its long delay .
Today, the supervisor of the “Attiko Metro” project, as well as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced that the metro will be ready and operational in April 2023.
State-of-the-art trains… without a driver in the Thessaloniki metro
The metro on its mainline has a length of 9.6 km, 13 modern stations and a depot that has a total area of 55 acres in the area of Pylea, which, as the president of Attiko Metro Nikos Tachiaos told Sputnik Hellas, will be the largest in southeastern Europe.
Thessaloniki metro trains are state-of-the-art and driverless.
They will move electronically and be controlled remotely from the huge control centre where dozens of monitors will observe trains and stations.
At the metro station in Pylea, work continues at various levels.
So far, 11 trains have arrived at the depot and tests by the “HITACHI RAIL” team, which is responsible for trains and traffic, are frequent.
Team leader Leonardo Paollela explains that driverless trains are completely safe, and guided us to the small control center, which is almost set up and will only be used in emergencies when for some reason a train cannot be controlled.
“When completed, the depot will be the largest in southeastern Europe. 66,000 square meters of facilities have been constructed on a plot of 50 acres and can accommodate the first 18 trains of the Thessaloniki main line,” explained Tachiaos.
“At the moment, we are conceding an area opposite to install the other 18 trains for the Kalamaria line,” he added.
The demonstration of a train moving without a driver inside the depot lines in front of Sputnik Hellas’ camera is impressive, with Tachiao stepping on the train horn at the start of the test route.
Finally the warnings… “Mind the gap”
At Euclid Station, work has progressed dramatically, both on the ground and underground.
The rails have been crossed, the station is complete in its appearance, ie with escalators, elevators, etc., while workers pass the electromechanical equipment that will give “life” to the trains.
One of the impressive elements of the project is that at the metro stations, passengers will not see the well-known signs of “Beware of the gap” or “Mind the gap”, since between the station and the train there will be special sliding doors.
These doors will open and close automatically upon arrival and departure of the train.
“One of the biggest security measures is that the passenger has no contact with the lines. The train will come, the doors of the station will open and thus the disembarkation and the boarding will take place,” Tachiaos explained.
The pandemic, Venizelos station and the delivery date
The delay in the completion of the project is several years old and one of the last “thorns” that must be overcome is the Venizelos station where important antiquities were found inside.
Specifically, the Roman boulevard Decumanus Maximus was found along with shops and houses which are located along the ancient Egnatia Road.