This day is definitely the start of a new era for the Greek Railways. In Corfu, today, September 14th, 2017, the signatures for the transfer of 100% of TRAINOSE’s shares to the Italian Ferrovie Dello Stato Italiane Group took place demarcating the beginning of, hopefully, better days for the Greek Railways.
Whether the company will indeed see them of course depends on the successful completion of all infrastructure projects and the implementation of necessary investments. According to well-informed sources, Filippos Tsalidis, is expected to remain current Chief Executive Officer, probably for one more year, while an Italian official will be probably appointed President. A position in the Board of Directors is secured by the representative of the employees (Mr. Zavogiannis), while the rest of the body will consist of both Greeks and Italians.
The first question is what will happen regarding the staff. The problem of staff shortage is known for years now, especially when it comes to train drivers. Here, according to information provided at Ypodomes, there has been an early agreement for the recruitment of 70 drivers this year and 70 more in the following year to solve the problem drastically.
At this point, it should be noted that train drivers’ training lasts about 12 months, so new "pilots" will not be available before the beginning of 2019. This is, of course, really important for two reasons: The first has to do with the frequency of the routes and the second one with the better staff management, which currently follows exhausting schedules in order for the services to run.
Completion of railway infrastructure projects will also save considerable amounts of money and time for the company. Electrification of the network and (therefore) faster services will compose a more cost-efficient and sustainable environment for the company, improving the appeal of the railways in the country at the same time.
Employees, from their behalf, are expecting the investor to respect labour rights and implement all necessary investments so as to improve the operation of the company both internally and externally, providing a better level of service to passengers.
It is rather early to talk about new trains. The lack of drivers and the completion of projects, especially on Athens-Thessaloniki-Idomeni corridor, are due to be completed after mid-2018, meaning that the “new TRAINOSE” will start emerging in 2019.
However, since Ferrovie intends to bring rolling stock to Greece, according to Ypodomes.com report, it seems that E402B electric train is the main candidate to serve the Greek network. This type of train is compatible with both countries’ electricity supply systems, it is manufactured in the period 1998-2000 and can take up speeds up to 200 km/h.
However, rolling stock according to railway sources, is currently sufficient for long-distance routes and freight transport. A shortage may come up with regard to Suburban Railway lines, since 17 Desiro trains operate at the moment. If Italians decide to increase the frequency of the routes, then they will probably need to order more trains from abroad.
What we expect after today's signatures is a schedule and an investment road map by the investors, aiming to reinstate Greek Railways’ faded glamour.