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Why Greece's Creaky Trains Have Become the Transit Option of Choice

Why Greece's Creaky Trains Have Become the Transit Option of Choice
Reuters

Ask any Greek - there are scores of reasons to avoid the country's trains. The system is old and crumbling, with creaky cars and a patchy rail network that skips some towns altogether.

But the recession has breathed new life into the system, as Greeks leave their cars at home. According to Reuters, rising fuel costs and high road taxes have caused many Greeks to choose trains as a cheaper alternative to car travel. As Reuters writes:

Rail traffic between Greece's two biggest cities - Athens and Thessaloniki - surged by 33 percent in the first 11 months of 2012, even if the night train plying that route is jokingly called "Karvouniaris" (coal-fired) to suggest it is slow and noisy enough to be a steam engine from a bygone era.

"Life as we knew it has changed. There's no money for luxuries like a car when you don't even know if you'll be able to pay your rent for the month," said Vanesa Varveri, a 55-year-old accountant from Athens who began using the train to visit her parents near the port city of Patras when she lost her job.

Scenes from the newly popular system, via Reuters.


A passenger feeds a cat at Domokos railway station, central Greece. Once an unpopular travel option, Greece's slow and creaky trains are winning new fans for the first time in decades as Greeks struggling with soaring fuel prices and high road taxes leave their beloved cars at home. (Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters)


Passengers wait for a train early in the morning at Athens railway station. (Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters)


A man sits in front of ticket desks at Thessaloniki railway station, northern Greece. (Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters)


A view from a train driver's seat is seen on a train travelling from Athens to Thessaloniki. (Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters)


A train departs early in the morning from Athens railway station. (Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters)

Keywords: Athens, Greece, Train

Amanda Erickson is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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