Sunday, February 20, 2011

Greece suspends international train services (this time they really mean it)

At the end of last year I posted about cost-cutting plans by the Greek train operator OSE. Among other things, the plans involved the suspension of all international train services into Greece from the start of January.

As it turned out, these trains were given a temporary reprieve and continued running until February. But it appears that from February 12 the suspension did really go ahead, and according to all reports I can find, the Greek rail system is now isolated from the rest of Europe.

This is my understanding of the specific changes:
- The two daily Belgrade-Skopje-Thessaloniki services will now run between Belgrade and Skopje only. It will still be possible to reach the border station at Gevgelija on domestic Macedonian trains.
- The two daily Sofia-Thessaloniki trains are cancelled. It will still be possible to reach the border station at Kulata on domestic Bulgarian trains.
- The Bucharest-Sofia-Thessaloniki train ("Romania") will run between Bucharest and Sofia only.
- The Istanbul-Thessaloniki "Dostluk/Filia Express" is suspended.

Although the websites of the Serbian, Bulgarian, and Macedonian rail operators carry news items confirming the suspension, at the time of writing the changes don't seem to have filtered through to the European rail timetables database used by German Railways (DB) among others. All online timetables relating to Greece should be treated with caution for the time being.

Wizzair flies from London to Skopje

Skopje is currently one of very few European capital cities with no direct scheduled flights to the United Kingdom. That's about to change, as Wizzair has announced that they will fly from Skopje to London Luton starting on June 20th. There will be three return flights weekly (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) until the end of September. It also appears that the route will continue into the winter, with the Wizzair site currently showing flights scheduled on Thursdays and Sundays from October.