There are 4 photo galleries for Greece, one covering motive power types, one for all OSE standard gauge lines, one for the former Thessaly Railway lines and the other covering the Piraeus-Athens-Peloponnese gauge systemThe title page of the 1962
SEK railway timetable
By European standards railways came late to Greece with the first section of line
between Athens & Piraeus not being opened until 1869 and it was into the early years
of the 20th century before there were any significant additions with the completion of
the standard gauge line from Athens to Larissa. The extension of this to complete the
main to Thessaloniki did not open to traffic until 1918. The decline of the Ottoman Empire
greatly enlarged the borders of Greece during the era of railway construction for prior to
1912 northern Thessaly and the areas of Macedonia & Thrace that formally became part of Greece
following the Treaty of Sevres in 1920, were administered by Turkey. All lines in these
areas either being operated by The Oriental Railway - (CO) Chemin de Fer Orientaux or under
a concession granted by Turkey.
Hellenic State Railways (SEK) took over most standard gauge lines in Greece from 1st June 1920. The major exception being the CO route from Alexandropolis to Svilengrad on the Bulgarian border which the Turkish company continued to operate until 29th June 1929 when it was vested in a new company, the Chemin de Fer Franco-Hellinique. The latter finally went bankrupt in 1952 and was purchased by the SEK on 7th March 1954. Thessaly Railways were nationalised in in May 1955 and its line from Larissa to Volos was converted to standard gauge operation in 1960. In later years its line from Paleofarlos to Kalambaka was converted to standard gauge operation in 2001 whilst the remaining metre gauge section between Volos & Paleofarlos was closed in 1999, leaving only part of the 60cm gauge Pelion Railway east of Volos operating to this day. The final act of the consolidation of all Greek Railways under SEK control took place in September 1962 when all the remaining metre gauge lines, apart from those of Thessaly, that had previously been merged with the Piraeus-Athens-Peloponnese Railway were themselves merged with the SEK.
The map to the left and pictures that follow are taken from an article entitled "The Last Link in the International Railway of Europe" published in "Cassell's Railways of the World" in the early 1920s. A large part of this article describes the section through the Assopos gorge in the mountains midway between Athens & Larissa, whilst the picture below shows the station at Livadia, now Levadia; a little to the south of the mountain section. Below this is another station scene this time described as "Train at Skimitari station, a few miles south of Chalkis", presumably taken on the branch from Inoi, although no station of this name appears on the current railway map. The trains standing in both pictures could well be hauled by one of the Batignolles 2-6-0Ts supplied at the time of the lines opening, one of which is preserved in Athens Railway Museum
Finally shown below are a couple of pictures of the Batignolles 2-6-0Ts, one at work in the early years at some unspecified location and a view of the preserved member of the class in Athens museum
Former Hellenic Railway Co. Ea class 2-6-0T number 204, built by Batignolles, stands in Athens Railway Museum 23/4/1980.
Photo Norman Glover
The place names used in these pages are as stated in the SEK timetable in 1962 which in some cases are at variance with those used currently.
Sources used for much of this information are: The Railways of Greece - Wilfred F Simms ISBN 0 9528881 1 4, The Steam Locomotives of Eastern Europe - A E Durrant - David & Charles 1966, Allied Military Locomotives of the Second World War - R Tourret ISBN 0-905878-06-X, various Internet sources including Google Maps & Wikipedia, and various locomotive builders lists.