My family has a long history with the railways in Greece. Both my grandfather and great-grandfather worked at several points as railway employees.
Like in many other countries, these railways were the backbone of the transport network and continue to be so today. The country is very mountainous making travel by land very difficult and slow. Moving people and goods by sea was the preferred option for many years and continues to be important today. But the advent of railways in the 19th and early 20th centuries made transport over land a much more attractive proposition.
As a result, many previously isolated towns and villages were linked to the rest of Greece. Without going into a detailed history, the network reached its peak before the Second World War when much of it was destroyed. The subsequent Civil War also caused significant damage and stalled upgrades and construction projects.
Like many other countries, Greece saw large cuts to train services in the 1980s. While some were restored in the 1990s and the 2004 Olympics saw major expansion in Athens and Attica, the 2011 Financial Crisis forced major cutbacks once again. Since then, there has been slow but sure expansion and improvements to services – the most recent being the introduction of a high-speed train between Athens and Thessaloniki.
Below is my suggested track for reading the rest of this post if you’d like some background music.