First Greek high-speed train journey will be in March

The first upgraded Alstom Avelia Pendolino ETR470 high-speed train has arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece. The first of the five trains, also named ‘white arrows’, will run between Athens and Thessaloniki starting on 25 March 2021 and reduce the journey times from four to three hours. Previously, the trains operated in Italy. Alstom will deliver the four remaining units to Thessaloniki by autumn 2021.

Prior to the trains being deployed in Greece, the Avelia Pendolino high-speed train operated in Italy under the name ‘Frecciabianca’ (White Arrow). They have been refurbished by Alstom, and fitted with train control system ETCS. TrainOSE, the main rail operator in Greece (owned by Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane since 2017), will operate the trains. The date of the train’s inaugural journey is March 25, according to the Greek Reporter.

As part of the project, Alstom will provide the modernisation of the depot and corrective maintenance services for the five trains. The two contracts, signed in March 2020 for depot modernisation and in June 2020 for maintenance, are worth around 40 million euros.

Reducing journey times

Introducing high-speed trains is a key component of Greek operator TrainOSE’s plan to reduce current journey times on the main Athens-Thessaloniki axis from 4 hours to around 3 hours, following the completion of infrastructure upgrades.

“Starting high-speed service in Greece with these upgraded Alstom trains is part of our strategy to offer an improved passenger experience, better quality services and reduced travel time on a very popular route”, said Filippos Tsalidis, CEO of TrainOSE. “Moreover, the upgrade of our Thessaloniki depot as part of this project will turn our depots into some of the most modern and high-tech depots in South-East Europe.”

Refurbished and modernised

The rolling stock has been completely refurbished and modernised at Alstom’s Savigliano site in Italy. The refurbished trains have wifi and new passenger information systems. They are also equipped with ETCS and are altered so they can run on the 25kV electrified network in Greece. “Introducing high-speed trains to Greece is a major achievement for Alstom and for our client in the country’s railway transport modernisation efforts”, said Stavros Vlachos, Alstom Managing Director for Greece.

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Author: Esther Geerts

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