Athens could have a new metro line running from Goudi to Galatsi via the city center by 2023, it was revealed Thursday as the government said it would launch a tender for the 1.2-billion-euro project in the fall of 2015.
“In the gloom of the economic crisis this project had been forgotten because nobody believed it could happen,” said Infrastructure Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, who unveiled the plans. “We have pulled the plan out of the drawers. Now we will try to make up for lost time.”
According to the time line presented Thursday, the remaining studies will be carried out over the next few months before construction firms are invited to submit bids next fall. The government is expected to announce the winning bid a year later. The construction of the 12.5-kilometer line (Line 4, or the U Line due to its shape) is due to take seven years.
Chrysochoidis said the European Investment Bank’s recent decision to help fund the project had made it possible. “The EIB knows it can trust us,” said the minister. The lender is providing 800 million euros of the funding needed. The rest will come from the European Union and national coffers.
The line, running from eastern Athens through the center and up toward the northern suburbs, will have 14 stations, including Alsos Veikou, Galatsi, Kypseli, Alexandras Avenue, Exarchia, Kolonaki, Kaisariani, Zografou and Goudi. It is estimated that 220,000 passengers will use Line 4 every day.
The construction of the new line will be made easier by the fact that it will be completely separate from existing lines, even though it will intersect with them. This means the existing lines will not have to be closed during construction, while much of the equipment used on Line 4 will not have to be compatible with the other lines. Officials also said that the construction of a metro station on Academias Street in central Athens would not affect traffic.
The project is expected to create 3,500 jobs, although not for train drivers. The trains that will be used on the new line will be driverless and glass barriers and doors will be installed on station platforms. The possibility of constructing parking garages at stations is under discussion, officials said.
Attiko Metro, the company responsible for overseeing the construction project, said that it would work with municipalities to make the best use of the public spaces where the new stations will be created.
“Line 4 fills an obvious gap and helps connect the Athens neighborhoods that are not served by the metro,” said City of Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis.