A senior transport ministry official on Tuesday revealed that Greece's debt-ridden Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) has recorded an operating surplus of 3.0 million euro in the first half of 2011, the first operating surplus since the company was founded.
Train operator TRAINOSE, an OSE subsidiary, had also managed to reduce its deficit in July to 1.7 million euro, down from 20 million euro in January.
The figures were announced by infrastructure, transport and networks ministry general secretary Haris Tsiokas during a visit to northern Greece railway facilities in Thessaloniki, where he was accompanied by a TRAINOSE team.
Tsiokas noted that OSE's debts in 2009 had reached 11 billion euro and that it generated an annual deficit of 1.2 billion euro. Based on the provisions of the EU-IMF Memorandum, the company was scheduled to become profitable by the end of the current year.
TRAINOSE, which prior to reforms generated an annual deficit of 300 million euro, is predicted to have eliminated its deficit entirely by the end of September and thus become more attractive for investors seeking a strategic alliance.
Both German and French companies have expressed an interest in such a prospective partnership in the past, while Tsiokas said that participation by the Chinese in any future tender should not be ruled out. He estimated that a suitable strategic ally would be found some time in 2012 if the process goes according to plan.
A TRAINOSE executive announced that sales of discount seats on the Athens-Thessaloniki line over the Internet will begin next week, with the first tickets available from August 21. There will be a total of 45,000 discount seats out of a total 210,000 in the month, with 10,000 going for just 9 euro, 15,000 for 19 euro and 20,000 for 29 euro.
The company also announced the immediate launch of a compensation policy for passengers for delays due to work to improve railway infrastructure, payable through a discount on the next railway tickets they purchase that will vary depending according to the length of the delay and reach 100 percent for delays exceeding two hours.
Other new facilities on trains to be introduced from September 1 are continuous access to the Internet and mobile phone signals, and a door-to-door passenger service combining trains and taxis through the purchase of a single ticket at a lower rate.
As of October, a programme for combined train-truck transport between Athens and Thessaloniki will be launched, centred around the Thriasio logistics centre, with the price expected to be 25 percent lower than competitor transport companies.