Trip to Greece - April 2013

General Notes

This trip was planned around a special railtour around the Peloponnese metre gauge system, with a few days before and after covering some of the routes in Greece. I had never been to Athens or the Peloponnese peninsula before, and had assumed that the Peloponnese metre gauge was "lost", almost all passenger services had ceased three years ago, and parts were already closed for conversion to standard gauge. The railtour itself was organised by Andrew Jones and Phil Wormald and was funded by the participants; about 60 people, mostly British, took part.

For other general notes, and the meanings of the abbreviations, go to the Reports index page.

Operating Company Abbreviations:

Place Arrive Depart Train Traction details & notes

Sunday 7th April 2013

Timperley   09:53 - RM tram 3033
Piccadilly 10:12 10:38 - TPE DMU 185138
Manchester Airport 10:55    
Manchester Airport (MAN)   12:55 EZY1947 Easyjet Airbus A320 G-EZUG dep 20 late
Athens International Airport (ATH) 18:55 19:33 'M3' Athens Metro
Syntagma 20:14 20:20 'M2' Athens Metro
Larissa Station 20:26 21:21 'M2' Athens Metro
Acropoli 21:28 22:49 'M2' Athens Metro
Larissa Station 22:58      

Overnight at Ariston Hotel, Diligianni 50, Athens (5 minutes walk from Athens Larissa Station)

Notes: Gentle and civilised start to the holiday. There are two ways to get from Athens Airport to Larissa Station: via the metro,as I did it, and by train changing at SKA. The latter would have involved a fair wait at SKA station so I didn't bother, and I was planning to cover that route later in the holiday. Unfortunately I had failed to notice that engineering works was closing the line between SKA and Iraklio/Metamorfosi from 8th April for two weeks, so I ended up with a few km gap! I took the metro to Akropoli to have a look at the Acropolis and the Parthenon, and also to find something to eat at a nearby restaurant. Incidentally Athens (Larissa) station must be the most underwhelming principal station of any European capital city; minimal station facilities, two platforms in use, an hourly local train service each way and a fast train to Thessaloniki every few hours. All diesel worked because the electrification is incomplete awaiting funding. The former metre gauge station building is more impressive, lying a few hundred metres south of the standard gauge buildings, and visible from my hotel balcony!

Monday 8th April 2013

Athens   07:18 50 OSE DL 220 014 + 6C
* Domokos 10:40 10:52 OSE EL 120 030 arr 20 late, dep 18 late
Platy 12:18 12:50 83 OSE DMU 520 108 + 2C + 520 205 arr 24 late
Florina (photo) 14:55 16:12 86 OSE DMU 520 205 + 2C + 520 108 (photo)
Thessaloniki 18:53   arr 8 late

Overnight at Hotel Vergina, 19 Monastiriou Str., Thessaloniki (5 minutes walk from Thessaloniki station)

Notes: The plan was to cover all the branches off the Athens - Thessaloniki main line: all except Kalambaka in these two days, leaving Kalambaka until Tuesday 16th (that didn't work out, as will be seen!). The section of the Athens - Thessaloniki main line between Tithorea - Lianokladi - Domokos is very hilly and scenic. Cut-off routes are under construction to reduce journey times but are delayed by the Greek financial crisis. Only the section north of Domokos is electrified, hence the change of traction there. The two branches off the Florina line, to Kozani and to Kremenitsa, are intact but have no passenger service - the Kozani line has freight traffic to the lignite mines.

Tuesday 9th April 2013

Thessaloniki   07:04 53 OSE EL 120 022 + 6C
Larissa 08:26 08:37 1574 OSE DMU 621 108 + 621 202 arr 15 late / dep 7 late
Volos (5 photos) 09:25 10:25 1575 OSE DMU 621 202 + 621 108 arr 6 late
Larissa 11:13 11:26 55 OSE EL 120 024 + 6C dep 10 late
* Domokos 11:52 12:04 OSE DL 220 003 arr/dep 10 late
Lianokladi 13:06 13:15 5524 OSE DMU 520 211 + 2C + 520 111 arr 22 late / dep 16 late
Stylida (photo) 13:48 13:58 5525 OSE DMU 520 111 + 2C + 520 211 arr 14 late / dep 8 late
Lianokladi 14:29 15:06 57 OSE DL 220 014 + 6C arr 4 late / dep 7 late
Inoi 16:36 16:52 1552 OSE DMU 560 111 + 560 114 arr 5 late
Halkida (photo photo) 17:14 17:28 1559 OSE DMU 560 114 + 560 111 dep 7 late
Rentis 19:01 19:01 1559 OSE DMU 560 108 + 560 101 arr 13 late / dep 15 late
Piraeus (photo) 19:15 19:30 2530 OSE DMU 560 101 + 560 108 arr 8 late
Athens (photo) 19:50    
Larissa Station 20:45 'M2' Athens Metro
Omonia 20:49 21:59 'M2' Athens Metro
Larissa Station 22:03    

Overnight at Ariston Hotel, Diligianni 50, Athens

Notes: The branch to Volos is a converted metre gauge line; traces are still visible of the closed metre gauge line from Volos to Paleofarsalos (on the main line south of Larissa, where the Kalambaka branch route diverges) and much of the track is still intact. Beyond Volos a 600mm gauge route ran to Milies, part of this is operated by a preservation scheme. Volos station, and the street running section beyond, had some triple-gauge track, remains are still visible. Due to late running, there was just time to take photos at Stylida while the driver changed ends! At Halkida the station is close to the bridge onto the island of Evia, so I took the opportunity to walk to a Greek island! DMU 560 114 gave trouble at Halkida and we were late leaving due to the driver trying to fix the problem. With only one DMU powering we lost time, and we were swapped to a spare pair of units at Rentis, nearly at Piraeus. Metro to Omonia to eat near there.

Wednesday 10th April 2013

Athens   07:50 1536 OSE DMU 560 114 + 560 115
SKA 08:00 08:13 - OSE EMU 460 019 set arr 12 late after set 560 114 failed again..... dep 7 late
Kiato 09:13 09:30 B-4 OSE bus
Diakofto (photo) 10:55 11:15 - OSE DMU 3110 + 3510 + 3210 750mm gauge part rack (photo)
Kalavryta (photo) 12:22 12:27 - OSE DMU 3210 + 3510 + 3110
Diakofto 13:35 14:15 - OSE bus
Patra (photo photo photo) 15:20 16:23 - OSE DMU 4304 + 4303 metre gauge
Agios Andreas 16:30 16:33 - OSE DMU 4303 + 4304
Agios Vasilios (photo) 16:56 17:02 - OSE DMU 4304 + 4303
Agios Andreas (5 photos) 17:27    

Overnight at Adonis City Hotel, Zaimi 7 & Kapsali 9, Patra (5 minutes walk from Patra station)

Notes: As well as getting to Patra for the next day's railtour, today's aim was to cover the 750mm gauge part-rack Diakofto - Kalavryta railway. I noted that the train formation for the short run to SKA included yesterday's errant 560 114, and history duly repeated itself when it caused problems again and we lost time! Fortunately the connection at SKA was held (it's a fair walk from the northbound main line platform at SKA to the Airport - SKA - Korinthos - Kiato line platform). At Diakofto the bus stops right outside the station, though only the 750mm gauge platform has any track in it - the metre gauge platforms have been demolished to make way for the new standard gauge line which will (if funding allows) go through here in a cut-and-cover tunnel. The Kalavryta line is extremely steep and extremely scenic, probably one of my top ten best railways in Europe. There was time at Diakofto for an unofficial depot visit before doing the branch and refreshments afterwards. After checking into the hotel at Patra one of only two remaining Greek metre gauge passenger services was sampled - this runs a little way south of Patra, to Agios Andreas, and some way north of Patra to Agios Vasilios, the complete 24km round trip taking one hour. The other passenger service is Katakolo - Pyrgos - Olympia, which was covered on Friday.

Thursday 11th April 2013

Patra (photo)   09:00 7350 OSE DL A.9101 + A.9105 + tank wagon + 4C metre gauge
via Vrachneika (photo stop 09:49 - 09:55) - Achaia (photo stop 10:30 - 10:40) - Varda (lunch and photo stop 11:29 - 12:12)
* Pyrgos (photo, photo) 13:00 13:20 7381 OSE DL A.9105 + 4C + tank wagon + A.9101 arr 62 late / dep 70 late
Katakolo (photo) 13:40 14:00 Reverse. arr 78 late / dep 70 late
Pyrgos 14:20 15:50 - Special bus provided by Hotel arr 75 late
Olympia, Hotel Neda 16:20    

Overnight at Hotel Neda, Karamanli 1, Olympia (5 minutes walk from Olympia station)

Notes: First day of the railtour. A.9101 and A.9105 are the only working locomotives. Note that this class of locomotives has "short hood" and "long hood" ends, the drivers always prefer a loco to be short hood leading as visibility is better - hence some of the shunts performed during the trip. The passenger accomodation on the train consisted of one open saloon coach, two former brake vans that had been modified with cushioned seats and safely openable exterior doorways, plus a standard brake van for staff. A tank wagon was also included for load but this was removed at Pyrgos on the Friday morning. A shunt at Pyrgos set up the locos for top-and-tail working for the branch lines.

There was a hotel farce tonight: many of the group, including myself, had booked rooms at the EpiHotel Odysseus, allegedly very close to the station at Katakolo. To cut a long story short, this hotel was actually several km out of Katakolo and was closed anyway; the booking agency moved us to Olympia, some 35km away. A bus was arranged to get us there from Pyrgos. Most of us got some compensation from the booking agents. As it happens staying in Olympia was better than in Katakolo, some of us walked to the ancient archeological site of the original Olympic Games: though it was closed to visitors, we were able to take some photographs from a nearby road (photo photo).

Friday 12th April 2013

Olympia (photo) 07:33 OSE DMU 4305 metre gauge
Pyrgos 08:05 09:03 7383 OSE DL A.9105 + 4C + A.9101
Katakolo 09:23 09:30 Reverse. arr / dep 10 late
via curve avoiding Pyrgos, but not fully onto the main running line, reverse, then back around the curve, reverse, then into Pyrgos station
Pyrgos 09:50 10:06 7352 arr 45 late / dep 42 late
via Alfioussa (photo stop at river bridge 11:19 - 11:31) - Kaiafa (photo stops at station, then at river bridge 12:17 - 12:25 photo photo, then in sand dunes 12:33 - 12:44 photo) - Kalonero (photo stop 14:27 - 14:40) - Zevgolatio (photo stop/break 14:55 - 15:46) - Meligala (photo stop 16:02 - 16:08)
Kalamata (photo) 14:00 17:35 - arr 202 late
Kalamata depot 17:45      

Overnight at Hotel Galaxy, Kolokotroni 16, Kalamata (10 minutes walk from station)

Notes: The railtour was barred from the Olympia branch due to the condition of track, but conveniently one of the few scheduled passenger workings on the branch fitted in very neatly with getting to Pyrgos for the railtour. The first thing that happened to the railtour this morning was removing the tank wagon! We went to Katakolo to pick up participants who had stayed in hotels in Katakolo (other than the EpiHotel Odysseus!), then via most (but not all!) of the curve avoiding Pyrgos station. A.9105 was fuelled at Pyrgos at the depot at the south end of the station. On the run to Kalamata we had a lot of photo stops, which were very good but didn't do much for the timekeeping! At Asprochoma the traingular junction with the branch to Messini was viewed and appeared to be intact though very overgrown: this had been refused for the railtour due to condition of track. At Kalamata some of us did the empty move into the depot for a good look around there; as it's a fair way out of town a taxi was taken to the hotel. The track from the station continues, out of use, down the hill through the town to the harbour; a number of steam locomotives, vintage carriages and DMU cars are stored here, in reasonable external condition, as an open-air museum (photo).

Saturday 13th April 2013

Kalamata (photo)   08:00 7461 OSE DL A.9105 + 4C + A.9101 metre gauge
via Zevgolatio (photo stop 09:24 - 09:30) - photo - Chranoi (photo stop 10:35 - 10:50 photo photo) - Manaris (photo stop 11:56 - 12:07 photo photo)
Tripolis (photo) 12:30 12:40 arr 5 late / lunch stop / dep 55 late
via Eleochori viaduct (photo stop 14:10 - 14:15) - Achladokampos viaduct (photo stop 14:42 - 14:54 photo photo photo photo photo)
Argos (photo) 15:30 15:40 7440 Reverse. arr 26 late / dep 25 late
Napflio (photo photo) 16:00 16:20 Reverse. arr 36 late / dep 25 late
Argos 16:40 17:00 7431 non stop, dep 15 late
Korinthos new station (photo photo) 18:45 19:25 Reverse. arr 30 late
via reversal at junction for new and old stations 19:29 (photo)
Korinthos old station (photo photo) 19:45    

Overnight at Korinthos Hotel, Damaskinou 26, Korinthos (5 minutes walk from old station)

Notes: Today we passed from near sea level at Kalamata to near sea level at Korinthos via the mountains, reaching nearly 800m above sea level. Extremely scenic, very curvaceous and with many viaducts. Excellent photo stop at Achladokampos. A very pleasant lunch stop was taken at Tripolis. At Argos we reversed to cover the 10km branch to Napflio. At Korinthos we firstly went into the new station, shared with the new Athens - Kiato standard gauge main line, then back to the junction and into the old station. The metre gauge routes from Korinthos old station to Patra and towards Athens are out of use.

Sunday 14th April 2013

Korinthos, Hotel Korinthos   07:15 taxi
Korinthos new station 07:25 08:00 7420 OSE DL A.9101 + 4C + A.9105 metre gauge
via Nemea (photo stop 09:05 - 09:10) - Mili (photo stop 10:20 - 10:30) - A.9101 losing power - Achladokampos (photo stop and loco repair work 11:10 - 11:28) - still problems with A.9101 - back to Achladokampos (photo stop and loco repair work 11:40 - 12:20) - Achladokampos viaduct (photo) -
* Tripolis (photo photo) 13:40 14:05   OSE DL A.9105 + 4C + A.9101
Lefktron 13:40 13:45 7470 pass 100 late
Megalopolis (photo photo) 13:55 14:10 arr 110 late / town visit / dep 170 late
Lefktron 14:20 14:30 7460 Reverse. dep 180 late
Zevgolatio 16:00 16:20 7353 Reverse. arr 170 late / dep 155 late
via Dorion (photo stop 19:30 - 19:35) - curve avoiding Kalonero (20:10)
Kyparissia (photo photo) 18:00   arr 150 late

Overnight at Ionian Hotel, OSE Square, Kyparissia (opposite station)

Notes: It had been planned for today's departure from Korinthos to be from the old station, but on arrival there last night it was decided to move the train to the new station overnight; this was because of the amount of grass etc on the old formation which could cause adhesion problems if the morning was very wet or dewy. The new station is a few km out of town, a short taxi ride being the preferred option. On the steep climb from Argos to Tripolis A.9101 was losing power and a stop was made at Achladokampos to have a look at the loco. Various things were tried including topping up the water in the cooling system, the loco appeared to be OK sop we set off again for a few hundred metres before the problem recurred. Setting back to Achladokampos, another attemnpt at fixing the problem was made. A.9105 was actually detached from the rear and run back to the loop points, with the intention of running it round onto the front of the train, but the correct key for the points was not available! With A.9105 back on the rear and doing most of the work we set off again. At Tripolis A.9105 was detached and turned via the depot triangle, A.9101 was detached and the train reformed with A.9105 on the front and A.9101 on the rear. Arrival at the branch terminus at Megalopolis (first train for some years and first passenger train for very many years) was nearly two hours late, but the local mayor (and a fair number of locals) met us and provided the local school bus to take us into town, where a late lunch break was taken. Quick reversals at Lefktron and Zevgolatio and traversal of the curve avoiding Kalonero meant that we were only 150 late into Kyparissia, where again the local mayor met us - but this time with several hundred local people. Tables groaning with food and drink had been laid on the platform so we didn't need to eat out that night! There were also a few sore heads next morning........

Monday 15th April 2013

Kyparissia (photo) 08:00 7355 OSE DL A.9105 + 4C + A.9101 metre gauge
* Kalonero (photo photo)   08:32   OSE DL A.9105 + 4C + A.9101
Pyrgos 10:30 10:35 arr 15 early / dep 5 late
towards Katakolo (reverse 10:45) - via curve avoiding Pyrgos station (10:45 - 10:50) - Amaliada 11:30 (photo) - Kavasilla (photo) - Varda (photo stop and lunch break 12:30 - 13:15) - Lappa (photo stop 13:30 - 13:40)
Patra (photo) 14:00     arr 60 late
Patra   16:30 B-9 OSE bus
Kiato (photo) 18:20 18:25 - OSE EMU 460.019 set
SKA 19:32 19:41 2531 OSE DMU 560 101 + 560 113
Athens 19:50   arr 6 late

Notes: At the south corner of the  triangle at Kalonero A.9101 was detached from the train, run round the triangle, then back onto the rear of the train. After departure from Pyrgos we ran down the Katakolo line a short distance then around the triangle, thus completing what we had only done 95% of a few days ago. Arriva in Patra was in plenty of time for the bus to Kiato then trains back to Athens. Evening meal was at a nearby restaurant.

Overnight at Ariston Hotel, Diligianni 50, Athens

Tuesday 16th April 2013

Athens (photo photo)   09:50 1541 OSE DMU 520 253 + 3T + 520 ??? dep 8 late
Rentis 10:01 10:01 1541 OSE DMU 521 207 arr 7 late / dep 10 late
Lefka 10:04   arr 13 late
Lefka 11:34 1544 OSE DMU 560 113 + 560 101
SKA (photo photo) 12:00 12:40 - OSE bus
Iraklio 12:48 12:53 - OSE EMU 460 017 set
Metamorfosi 12:54 12:56 - OSE EMU 460 017 set
Athens International Airport 13:22 14:08 - OSE EMU 460 010 set
Neratziotissa 14:34 14:38 'M1' Athens Metro
Kifissia 14:45 14:46 'M1' Athens Metro
Piraeus (photo) 15:37 15:50 'M1' Athens Metro
Omonia 16:09 16:15 'M2' Athens Metro
Agios Dimitrios 16:27 16:29 'M2' Athens Metro
Syntagma 16:38 16:42 'M3' Athens Metro
Egaleo 16:50 16:54 'M3' Athens Metro
Syntagma 17:02 17:08 '4' Athens tram TA10024
SEF (photo) 17:52    
Neo Faliro 18:02 'M1' Athens Metro
Attiki 18:20 18:26 'M2' Athens Metro
Anthoupoli 18:33 18:36 'M2' Athens Metro
Larissa Station 18:44 19:15 'M2' Athens Metro
Omonia 19:18 19:20 'M1' Athens Metro
Monastiraki 19:22 21:15 'M3' Athens Metro
Syntagma 21:17 21:19 'M2' Athens Metro
Akropoli 21:21 21:45 'M2' Athens Metro
Anthoupoli 22:01 22:04 'M2' Athens Metro
Larissa Station 22:12    

Overnight at Ariston Hotel, Diligianni 50, Athens

Notes: The original plan for today was to cover the branch from Paleofarsalos to Kalambaka; unfortunately a series of strikes by signalling workers (?) meant that evening services were being curtailed, and the return train from Kalambaka would not run. Instead I partook in a visit to the OSE works at Lefka, then covered the remaining available standard gauge main line route to the airport. Then I travelled over the full extent of the Metro (line 1 is mostly at ground level and very worth while the time) and one of the tram routes. I met up with a friend and ate near Monastiraki, then we repeated my visit to the Parthenon. The metro line 2 route extension to Anthoupoli is very new, none of the trains have it on their route maps!

Wednesday 17th April 2013

Larissa Station 09:27 'M2' Athens Metro
Syntagma (photo) 09:35 09:52 '4' Athens trolleybus 7015
Akadimia Afhinon 09:56    
Syntagma   10:03 'M3' Athens Metro
Athens International Airport (ATH) 10:48 13:10 EZY1948 Easyjet Airbus A320 G-EZUU
Manchester Airport (MAN) 15:15 16:05 - TPE DMU 185 ???
Manchester Piccadilly 16:20 16:24 - RM tram 3038
Timperley 16:44    

Notes: A simple homeward journey, with a stop-off at Syntagma to view the parliament guards performing their routines, and a quick ride on a Van Hool trolleybus - with Alstom Preston traction equipment in it!

Tickets used: 6-day single country Inter-Rail for Greece, plus single or day Athens area tickets as required. InterCity trains (those numbered in the '50s' here) require a supplement+seat reservation, for which I paid extra for each train.

Summary: An excellent holiday with a really good railtour as the focal point: very many thanks to Andrew and Phil for organising it. I also covered most of my intended itinerary before and after the railtour; very helpfully, despite late running on the main lines, all branch line connections were "made". Weather was good: not too hot (20 to 25 C daytime temperatures) but plenty of sunshine for good photography.

Copyright 2013 Paul Steane.