24/25.11.2016: IAK Hamburg–Athens corridor – the meeting in Athens
The third official meeting of the International Working Party of experts gathered around the ARL project «Spatial and Transport Development along European Corridors: An Example of the Corridor 22, Hamburg–Athens» took place in Athens, on the 24th and 25th November 2016.
As Athens is considered the starting/end point of the entire corridor, the meeting was devoted to elucidating the current challenges in the domains of spatial and transport development, observed from various perspectives – from transnational to local.
The representatives of the PCT (Piraeus Container Terminal), the largest terminal of the COSCO (Chinese Ocean Shipping Group Company) in Europe, provided an overview of the current investments in port and railway infrastructure in Greece, as well as of the initiatives for upgrading the railway network in South-Eastern Europe.
The CEO of ERGOSE, branch of the OSE (Hellenic Railways Organisation), in addition to the efforts of improving the railway lines in the Greek capital, also placed an emphasis on the future steps tended to enhance the connectivity of Greece mainly with northern neighbouring countries of FYROM and Bulgaria, thus contributing to the territorial cohesion of Greece with other EU countries. The experts from the OSE presented the current state of the railway network development in the agglomeration area of Athens, highlighting the main bottlenecks, which appear as a result of the technical shortcomings (i.e. signalisation, electrification), while also providing the main steps to be taken in order to overcome the current weaknesses.
Finally, the representative of the Planning Department of the City of Athens showed the most important trends in the spatial development of the Athens agglomeration, paying particular attention to the main infrastructural nodes. According to this, the lack of integrated spatial and transport development appears due to understanding the Central Railway Station of Athens (Larissis Station) as a barrier, and not as a node that could serve to connect eastern and western part of the city. Hence, the meeting in Athens was a great opportunity for the local experts to reconsider the problematics of integrated infrastructural and city development, and, thus, try to define the proactive solutions. For the foreign experts, the meeting offered a significant insight into the various planning mentalities and planning cultures along the one of the longest European corridors.