Gov’t rail talk raises eye­brows

Be­fore ink on Train­ose deal has dried, Ga­iaose says it will seek rail­way ser­vice li­cense, up­grade car­riages

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY ILIAS BELLOS

Just a cou­ple of days af­ter the sign­ing of the con­ces­sion of rail­way ser­vice op­er­a­tor Train­ose to its Ital­ian peer, Fer­rovie dello Stato Ital­iane, the gov­ern­ment is speak­ing about the cre­ation of a new state rail­way com­pany through Ga­iaose, the rail­way prop­er­ties com­pany su­per­vised by the Trans­port Min­istry.

Athana­sios Schizas, Ga­iaose’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, an­nounced that his com­pany “will pro­ceed with the ac­qui­si­tion of a rail­way li­cense,” and added that it has drafted a plan for the ren­o­va­tion of car­riages, es­ti­mated at 40-45 mil­lion euros, so that “within three years it will be on a par with the av­er­age level of de­vel­oped Euro­pean states.”

“We will not com­pete with Train­ose,” he ex­plained, be­fore not­ing that, “to all in­tents and pur­poses, the Greek state has to have a rail­way li­cense in its posses­sion.”

Ga­iaose’s planned move is seen by some trans­port in­dus­try in­sid­ers as “at least in­el­e­gant” and quite in­dica­tive of why the in­vest­ment cli­mate in Greece has been un­der­mined.

The mar­ket is even more con­cerned by in­for­ma­tion that agen­cies of the In­fras­truc­ture and Trans­port Min­istry have raised the is­sue of en­sur­ing the lease of the lo­como- tives and car­riages from the stock of the Greek state which is en­tirely owned by Ga­iaose. In the con­text of this de­mand, the same in­for­ma­tion points to the min­istry also rais­ing the is­sue of Train­ose’s 50 mil­lion euros in an­nual sub­si­dies for ser­vic­ing un­pop­u­lar routes, which con­sti­tutes a pub­lic ser­vice obli­ga­tion.

Al­though trans­port sources es­ti­mate that the mat­ter of the 50 mil­lion euros may be cited as a means of pres­sure to the Ital­ian side, it re- 1.0632 mains quite clear that Train­ose was sold off with the sub­sidy con­tracts signed and sealed for the next five years, so the buyer is legally cov­ered.

But if the above in­for­ma­tion proves ac­cu­rate and the is­sue does blow up, it could de­rail the smooth com­ple­tion of the Train­ose sale to Fer­rovie dello Stato Ital­iane, a project linked to the write-off of a Train­ose debt to the state amount­ing to 750 mil­lion euros.

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