Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Suburban rail in Patras

Some time ago I wrote about rack railway to Kalavryta. As a continuation of rail theme, today time for Patras suburban railway (gr. Προαστιακός). Yes, believe it or not, Patras has one, a very good one! It connects the city center, stations are located close to Agios Andreas church and the port, with north‑eastern parts of the city together with outskirt towns of Rio and Agios Vasilios. As I use it almost everyday, I finally decided to dedicate one of my posts to this train.
First connection started in July 2010, between Patras and Rio, and train stopped at four stations only. In time, more and more areas wanted the train to stop in their neighborhoods and since September 2011, the train has been extended until Ag Vasilios, to my great satisfaction :-D There are plans to extend the route more to the east, until Arachovitika and Psathopyrgos, so as final route should consist of stations of: Ag Andreas, Patra (port), Panachaiki stadium, Bozaitika, Kastelokampos, Rio, Ag Vasilios and future Arachovitika and Psathopyrgos. Among further improvements, there is also planned additional route in opposite direction until Kato Achaea through Vrachneika, that would in consequence lead to connecting almost 50km of the coast line of Patras metropolitan area with fast and reliable train, significantly reducing traffic in the center.
Similar suburban routes are operating in Athens and Thessaloniki. Athens connections are: to Piraeus, Corynthos, Kiato and the International Airport, with extension plans also in north and south directions. Thessaloniki connections are to: Larissa through Litochoro, and to Edessa. The trains are operated by TrainOSE, an independent state company, using infrastructure of the Hellenic Rail Organization (ΟΣΕΟργανισμός Σιδηροδρόμων Ελλάδας). Patras route is not electrified and though served by diesel engine rolling stock made in Switzerland by STADLER / BOMBARDIER and in Germany by MAN factories. 

The train immediately became extremely popular. First among students, who use it everyday to get from Patras to Rio, from where extra bus takes them up to the new university campus within the price of the train ticket. Student monthly ticket is only 15E! It is cheaper than city bus and much faster and comfortable, with air conditioning during the summer and heating in the winter months.
Nowadays, in crisis time, more and more people start to use it also in the opposite direction, to get to work in the center. The train seems very convenient way, if You consider the fact that You are not forced to look for a parking place, which sometimes means additional 15min of Your time or extra 5E from Your pocket. For me, trip from Agios Vasilios, takes about 25min, which would be difficult to achieve with a car during heavy afternoon traffic.
Photo presents Patras main station, between pedestrian Ag Nikolaou street and the port. I have originally taken photo of empty station and later decide to “improve” it a little bit with colorful train. As the post is about the train itself, I think it fits much better :-P

Photo details: NIKON D70s, Aperture priority, f 1/9, 1/400s, -0.3EV, f=105 mm (for 35mm), GIMP software

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