Piraeus-Perama light railway

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Piraeus-Perama tram
Line length: 9.7 km (6.0 mi)
Track gauge: 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
0.000 Piraeus
...
...
...
0.710 Ag. Dionysios 1
1.026 SEK mainline
1.313 Papakonstantinou
1.638 Panagiotakou 2
2.082 Tampouria (up)
2.145 Tampouria (down)
2.469 Proskopon 3
Jetty
2.991 Nea Stasi Keratsiniou
3.336 Ag. Georgios
3.617 Salaminos
4.050 Skoupidia 4
4.536 Scholeio
4.975 Ikonio
5.490 Plakouda-Zefyros 5
6.223 Shell Oil
6.600 Nea Stasi Peramatos
7.012 Blazaki 6
7.625 Papadopoulou (up)
7.668 Papadopoulou (down)
8.130 Karaoli-Dimitriou
8.467 Savva
8.768 Kentra
9.719 Nafstathmos (Naval Base)
9.800

The Piraeus-Perama light railway (Greek: Τραμ Περάματος) was a standard gauge suburban light railway line in Greece which connected downtown Piraeus with Perama and Salamis Naval Base. The line was owned by the Hellenic Electric Railways and operated from 1936 to 1977.

History[edit]

Piraeus-Perama level crossing sign (1935)

The construction of a railway line connecting downtown Piraeus to Perama was decided when the Hellenic Navy developed Salamis Naval Base as their main naval facility in the 1890s. The right to build the line was given to the former "Athens-Piraeus Railway". However no action was taken until 1930, when the successor company "Hellenic Electric Railways" decided to start construction of the line. Construction was finished in 1935 but services were not started until 20 July 1936, when rolling stock became available by Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie.

The line was standard gauged, electrified at 600 V DC alimented by overhead line system. The first 710 m of the line operated as a street running tramway along Kondyli Coast, using the existing Piraeus Harbour tramway tracks. After this point the line was separated from road traffic, running on its own railway type right-of-way, laid with Vignoles rail tracks with a mass of 34 kg/m, thus allowing even standard railway rolling stock to use the line. As the line was single track, seven passing loops were constructed along its length to allow a frequent service in both directions. No signal system was ever installed and safe circulation was achieved by the use of predefined passing loops per each service. The last 800m section of the line was located within the naval base area and only Navy personnel bearing a pass, controlled by Naval Police, was allowed to continue.

During the World War II German occupation the line was connected to the mainline of the Hellenic State Railways with a curve at Methonis street, allowing freight trains to access Keratsini Port. At Keratsini a short branch was constructed leading to one of the jetties. Due to serious damages on infrastructure and rolling stock caused by Allied bombing of Piraeus on 11 January 1944 the line paused service until April 1945.[1]

Most of its time the line was exploited with two kind of regular services: one full length service from Piraeus to the Naval Base, running every 15 minutes with two car formation of the rolling stock (line number 4) and in between, 7,5 minutes after, a short service from Piraeus to St. George at Keratsini aerea with single cars (line number 3). Services continued in the 1960s, surviving the anti-tramway fashion of the era that resulted in the closure of the total of the Athenian and Piraeus metre gauge network owned by the Electric Company of Transports (in Greek Ηλεκτρική Εταιρεία Μεταφορών - Η.Ε.Μ.) and in the discontinuity of the rest of the also standard gauged Piraeus Harbour tramway. Plans for renovation of the line and a further extension to Eleusis were announced in the mid-1970s but never came to life and neither the line was modernized as promised nor new rolling stock was acquired. Therefore, due to the shortage of operational rolling stock in regard with the age of the vehicles (almost 40 years old), by 1975 the short service to Keratsini was discontinued and only service on line 4 was provided every 20 minutes using single cars. Eventually the line was closed on 23 March 1977.[2][3]

Most of the right of way of the light railway was finally pavaged and became a pedestrianised street. At Thermopylon street, near the church of Ayios Dionysios (St. Dennis) in Piraeus, the tracks survive intact. At several level crossings, they were never removed and are still visible today. A tram vehicle survives in Perama on the old right of way, albeit in a dilapidated condition. Between Tsorpatzoglou Square in Perama (where civilians should alight) and the Naval Base itself, most the infrastructure, including the tracks, platform, shelter and masts, remains intact. Plans are to re-instate the line and connect it to the modern Athens tram system, running underground in premetro style both because the narrowness of the old right of way makes it unsuitable for laying double track on the surface as the heavy motor traffic conditions of the area.

Rolling stock[edit]

Railcar no 82 of the defunct Piraeus-Perama suburban light railway (1936-1977) at Pikrodaphni tram station

The rolling stock was made in Italy by OM-CGE-Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie. It consisted of 12 (numbered from 71 to 82) very innovative for the time electric vehicles, fitted with pantograph (rail), Scharfenberg couplers and driver operated pneumatic doors.[3] The vehicles could reach a speed of 50 km/h and had enough space for about 100 passengers. The "little trains", as the locals affectionally called them, were stored and serviced in the depot located in the Hellenic Electric Railways premises, next to Piraeus station. Some survive at various locations e.g. Kasomouli and Pikrodaphne tram stop used as rest places for the tramway drivers, STASY S.A. children's camp at Varybobi, Thission depot of ex ISAP, Greek Railway Museum but none is in good condition.

Of course, the section between Methonis street and Keratsini harbour was used by a wide variety of freight trains using steam and diesel traction.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ελληνικοί Ηλεκτρικοί Σιδηρόδρομοι 1869-1969 (Hellenic Electric Railways 1869-1969) (2nd ed.). Athens, Greece: Hellenic Electric Railways. 1970 (2005). ISBN 960-86477-1-1. 
  2. ^ I. Zartaloudis, D. Karatolos, D. Koutelidis, G. Nathenas, S. Fasoulas, A. Filippoupolitis, A. (1997). Οι Ελληνικοί Σιδηρόδρομοι (Hellenic Railways) (in Greek). Μίλητος (Militos). pp. 61–64. ISBN 960-8460-07-7. 
  3. ^ a b G. Nathenas, A. Kourbelis, T. Vlastos, S. Kourouzidis, V. Katsareas, P. Karamanis, A. Klonos, N. Kokkinos (2007). Από τα Παμφορεία στο Μετρό (in greek) 2. Athens: Μίλητος (Militos). pp. 971–997. ISBN 978-960-8460-91-1. 

Further reading[edit]

Media related to Piraeus-Perama light railway at Wikimedia Commons

  • 130 Χρόνια Ηλεκτρικοί Σιδηρόδρομοι Αθηνών-Πειραιώς Α.Ε. (130 years of Athens-Piraeus electric railways). ISAP. 1999–2005. ISBN 960-86477-0-3. 
  • G. Nathenas, A. Kourbelis, T. Vlastos, S. Kourouzidis, V. Katsareas, P. Karamanis, A. Klonos, N. Kokkinos (2007). Από τα Παμφορεία στο Μετρό (in greek) 2. Athens: Μίλητος (Militos). ISBN 978-960-8460-91-1. 
  • I. Zartaloudis, D. Karatolos, D. Koutelidis, G. Nathenas, S. Fasoulas, A. Filippoupolitis, A. (1997). Οι Ελληνικοί Σιδηρόδρομοι (Hellenic Railways) (in Greek). Μίλητος (Militos). pp. 61–64. ISBN 960-8460-07-7. 
  • Ελληνικοί Ηλεκτρικοί Σιδηρόδρομοι 1869-1969 (Hellenic Electric Railways 1869-1969) (2nd ed.). Athens, Greece: Hellenic Electric Railways. 1970 (2005). ISBN 960-86477-1-1.