Major Projects to Boost Thessaloniki’s Reputation in Southeastern Europe
Thessaloniki Helexpo Forum reveals developments for major infrastructure projects in Thessaloniki
Major infrastructure works are underway in Thessaloniki, which are expected to contribute to the development of the northern port city as a trade and logistics hub, as well as a significant tourism destination in Southeastern Europe.
Speaking during the Thessaloniki Helexpo Forum that took place recently in the northern city, Greece’s Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis referred to the upgrade of the city’s port and revealed that by December the government will announce the contractor that will undertake the project for the connection of the port’s pier 6 with the national highway connecting Thessaloniki, Athens and Patra.
The project is budgeted at 70 million euros.
Furthermore, according to Karamanlis, Greece will launch another tender in 2021 for the construction of a 3km-long railway track that will connect the city’s port with its railway network.
“We cannot think of Thessaloniki as a gateway for Southeastern Europe if its port is not connected with the railway network and the highway,” he said.
Apart from the expansion of pier 6, the 200-million-euro investment program of the Thessaloniki Port Authority also includes the modernization of equipment and the upgrade of the port’s passenger terminal.
Greece’s railway network to see upgrade
The Greek transport minister also underlined that future projects will focus on railway infrastructure and that the government plans to carry out a new set of major works in the years to come.
“A great effort has been made to plan, design and start the tender process for a series of pioneering projects worth 13 billion euros,” Karamanlis said.
Speaking about the Thessaloniki – Athens railway line, the CEO of Greece’s railway service operator Trainose, Philippos Tsalidis, said that in 2019 the company carried 20 million passengers and 1,400,000 tons of goods.
According to Tsalidis, due to the new railway infrastructure, the trip between the two cities now lasts only 4 hours. He added that by 2022, the time of journey will be further reduced to 3 hours and 20 minutes.
Trainose also plans to add five new high-speed trains to the Thessaloniki – Athens itinerary. The first is scheduled to conduct its maiden voyage on March 25, 2021.
Meanwhile, Thessaloniki’s Makedonia Airport has also been upgraded with significant infrastructure works carried out in the recent years by Fraport Greece.
“Thessaloniki is our biggest single investment worth 90 million euros out of a total of 450 million invested across the country,” Fraport Greece CEO Alexander Zinell said.
He added that the airport will be double in size with the addition of state-of-the-art facilities and “everything you can expect from a modern airport”.
It is noted that Fraport Greece has already completed renovation and upgrade works at 11 out of the 14 Greek regional airports it manages and operates throughout the country, with the remaining projects expected to be completed by early next year.
Looking towards the future, Zinell expressed optimism as traffic is slowly recovering.
“Traffic fell close to zero during the lockdown – in April and May. Now we have recovered to about 27 percent of last year’s traffic. [Then] we had 30 million passengers across all our airports and now we have 6.5 million. It is a slow and difficult recovery as we move into the winter season,” he added.