1869: Greece Opens Its First Railroad Line

February 27, 1869

Greece’s first railroad line – as well as one of the oldest metropolitan-area transit systems in the world – was officially opened to serve Athens and its vicinity. The Athens & Piraeus Railway commenced its regular operations along a 5.5-mile (8.8-kilometer) route with a steam locomotive that pulled six cars from the Athens neighborhood of Thiseio (also known as Thission) to the port city of Piraeus. The formal launch took place 10 days after the Athens & Piraeus Railway Company finished building the line.

Those attending the inaugural ceremony for the new rail service included Greek Prime Minister Thrasyvoulos Zaimis and Queen Olga, the wife of King George I of Greece. In its subsequent daily operations, the Railway initially ran nine trains in each direction on Sundays and eight trains in each direction during the remainder of the week.

It was taken over by the Greek Bank of Industrial Credit in 1874. By the following decade, the northern terminus of the railway’s line had been extended from Thiseio to the Athens neighborhood of Omonoia. An even more significant change occurred in 1904 when the entire line was electrified. In 1926, the line was acquired by the Power and Traction Finance Company and renamed Hellenic Electric Railways.

After being nationalized in 1976, the line was renamed Athens-Piraeus Electric Railways S.A. This service operated Line 1 of the Athens Metro rapid-transit system from that time to 2011. This segment of the Athens Metro encompasses a total of 15.9 miles (25.6 kilometers), more than triple the length of the Athens & Piraeus Railway at the time of its debut in 1869.

Additional information on the Athens & Piraeus Railway and its successors is available at  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athens–Piraeus_Electric_Railways#Athens_and_Piraeus_Railway.

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