A reverse countdown for the debut of the first – and long-awaited – metro line in the northern city of Thessaloniki is expected to commence over the next few months.

Specifically, the period up until roughly April will witness the signing of a contract for the acquisition of 15 rail cars, tender bids for a public-private sector partnership contract for the underground rail system’s operation, and the first scheduled test run from the main Venizelos metro station.

The return and placement of antiquities discovered at the specific station, during extensive underground construction works, is also scheduled for April.

The entire metro line runs along a length of 9.6 kilometers, from a depot at the Pylea site to Thessaloniki’s new train station, with test runs currently conducted on only a portion of the single two-way line.

The original plan to build a metro line in Greece’s second largest municipality dates back decades, while the ongoing project was initially scheduled to finish in 2012, with successive years of economic downturn and political instability causing repeated delays.

Nevertheless, Thessaloniki’s underground is billed as far more innovative than the well-known and important greater Athens network, with automated rail cars to be used.

A timetable announced by Attiko Metro, the state-run company responsible for the development and construction of both the Athens and Thessaloniki networks, gives a completion deadline for all stations – sans Venizelos – by September 2023. A completion deadline for the Venizelos station is November 2023, followed by an eastern extension to the Kalamaria municipality in 2024.

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