After setbacks from impromptu archaeological digs and building one of the largest public works in Greek history, the Athens Metro was finally inaugurated in January.
The underground metro will not be completed until 2002, at which point it will have 21 stations and two lines covering about 11 miles. The 28 six-car metro trains will operate at speeds of up to 50 mph and carry about 450,000 passengers daily. That is 120,000 more passengers than the daily passenger count on existing lines.
The metro was built as a turnkey project by the Olympic Metro Consortium, led by Siemens and Interinfra (of which Alstom is the main shareholder), composed of 21 German, French and Greek companies. The $705 billion metro was financed about 50% by the European Union, 40% by the European Investment Bank and 10% by the Greek government. No single project has ever received more financial support from the EU and EIB, according to the Athens Metro website.
The subway connects Athens' major urban points with residential districts. Metro officials said that it will help reverse the decrease in public transport use, especially since other modes of transit, like buses and railways, will connect to the Metro.
Both the stations and trains were designed to accommodate people with special needs, who make up about 10% of Athens' population. Amenities include: signs and graphics that are easier to read and announce facilities, wheelchair-equipped elevators at all stations, a raised platform edge, ramps, audible door close warnings and station announcements.
Olympic Metro is also building a station of 144,000 square yards for vehicle maintenance and repair.