As Greece faces an economic recession, the country’s creditors have asked the government to move ahead with the privatization of major companies. It is believed that this process will offer the country economic sustainability.
OSE, the Greek company in charge of railway transport, is one of these major companies. The solution suggested by the Greek government, but also by the troika (i.e. the representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund), is the privatization of the company and its subsidiaries.
However, this plan caused negative reactions on behalf of the company's train workers, who claim that this will lead approximately 3,000 of them into unemployment. The union of railway workers instead suggests that the government use the state railway as "a growth engine of the national economy, with priority to the completion of projects for upgrading the central railway axis." In the union workers suggestion is heard, OSE will be able to increase revenue and enhance the quality of railway service.
Additionally, the suggestion for privatization of the subsidiary company ROSCO, the company responsible for train maintenance, is not as easy a process as it sounds. On the one hand privatization is expected to boost the country’s economy, but on the other hand it is uncertain how this transformation will leave workers and passengers unaffected.
According to logistical analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers, if ROSCO stops belonging to the Greek state the maintenance costs will increase and reach thirty-five million euros per year. To cover these additional costs, ticket prices may be increased.
The railway network is 2,552 kilometers long, with stops at almost all major cities on Greece’s mainland. In order to attract passengers, Greek railways also offer theme travels all year long. The itineraries, which can be found at OSE's website, consist of beautiful landscapes and places of architectural interest. Moreover, the theme trains stop at cities with historical value such as Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the first Olympic Games. We can see two of them in the following images.
The "Odontotos Train" can travel at lines of high inclination, unlike conventional trains (left), and a traditional Greek train by Nestos river, northern Greece (right).
Consequently, how do you propose to make railways profitable and help Greece's economy? How are train networks organized in your country?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.