GUIDING THE ROAD
TO A MORE PROSPEROUS GREECE Engaging | Empowering | Edifying
GUIDING THE ROA
TO A MORE PROSPEROUS GREE
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A project over a decade in the making, the Olympia Odos concession and its resulting toll motorway winding through the Greek peninsula of the Peloponnese region stands as a testament to ingenious design and engineering. Indeed, having been nominated for an ASCE award for Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement in March 2019, the finalisation of construction is only the beginning. Since coming online, the road has drastically reduced traffic travel time and formed valuable links to Athens â€“ yet the real journey lies in maintaining and sustaining this crucial artery to domestic trade and growth.
he ancient city of Athens, capital of Greece, has been vital to that countryâ€™s growth and development since more or less the dawn of civilisation. Yet the Greek mainland, distinctive on the atlas of the world as it is, is a complex shape rich with comBUSINESS AXIS MAGAZINE | 3
plex topography, and to effectively navigate that takes modern thoroughfares that also serve a vital role in funding not only their own maintenance, but the potential future developments of greater avenues to come. In March 2019, the Olympia Odos concession – responsible for the design, construction and ongoing maintenance of the new toll motorway system tracing the Gulf of Corinth and beyond – became one of five distinguished nominees for the American Society of Civil Engineers Awards. More specifically, Olympia Odos was put forward for the Award for Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement, in much deserved recognition for what has been a project of considerable ambition, magnitude and, indeed, success – the only project beyond the USA itself to be listed among said nominees. Olympia Odos’ CEO, Mr Papanikolas, has reacted with both gratitude and humility to the accolade. “It is a great honour for Olympia Odos and Greece that the motorway was the only European project honoured during the American Society of Civil Engineers ceremony – a very prestigious international competition,” he noted. “This great distinction vindicates a great effort made by a large number of people, and proves 4 | BUSINESS AXIS MAGAZINE
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how difficult this project was both in terms of management – due to its construction under traffic – and in purely technical terms, because of the important number of large structures implemented in a zone of particularly high seismic activity, in a narrow strip of land between the mountains and the sea, which is also one of the richest areas in archaeological findings in all of the world today.” DEVELOPING THE AMBITION Despite its prominent position as one of the oldest and most storied of all the European nations, Greece has
“THIS GREAT DISTINCTION VINDICATES A GREAT EFFORT MADE BY A LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE...”
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not classically enjoyed as consistently high a degree of efficiency in its road transportation networks as many of its neighbouring nations. Indeed, Olympia Odos is remarkable for specifically focusing on the Peloponnese region of Greece, and the western portion of the country overall â€“ a territory regarded as among the most isolated in Europe. This is despite this same region being the domain of not only the Greek capital of Athens, but also the vital port city of Patras besides â€“ a hub of commerce and tourism alike. Connecting these two cities, to say nothing of other vital cities between them and forming a more co6 | BUSINESS AXIS MAGAZINE
SIRECLED is proud to be a strategic supplier of Olympia Odos, a concession company led by VINCI Concessions which operates one of the most important motorways in Greece. This 205km motorway is of major strategic importance for the Greek motorway infrastructure network, as it connects Athens with the major port of Patras and the western Europe, through Italy. SIRECLED supplied LED lighting fixtures for the Patras By Pass Tunnels. These 12 tunnels, 5.12km in total length, underwent total refurbishment, including painting and lighting replacement.
Under the strict requirements of Olympia Odos and the Independent Engineer, our STLM lighting fixture was required to overcome many demanding specifications, such as increased vehicle entry and travel speed (>100km/h), glare and uniformity.
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SIRECLED’s STLM LED tunnel luminaire was designed with Counter Beam technology (directional maximum precision lenses). This design has the advantage to direct the light beam exactly where it is required as opposed to the standard lenses where limitations in light diffusion control exist. The result, as measured and verified by the National Technical University of Athens, is a staggering 75% in energy saving which translates in a reduction of 8.000.000 kWh/year and 4.000 tons of CO2 equivalent. Our STLM is designed and manufactured in Greece to meet the most demanding European quality standards, certified for hard usage and is 100% recyclable. With respect to the environment and a human centric approach, our luminaires achieved once again opti-
INTELLIGENT LIGHTING SYSTEMS
mum optical results, drastically improving safety in a motorway which prior to Olympia Odos had been one of the most dangerous highways in Europe. SIRECLED is a vertically integrated designer and manufacturer of LED lighting luminaires. Internal R&D and cooperation with top suppliers in the market, results in state of the art luminaires for the most demanding environments. Our products are trusted by Motorways (Aegean Motorway, Greece), Tunnels (Olympia Odos, Greece), Municipalities (Dionysos, Greece), Factories (Coca-Cola Hellenic, Central & Eastern Europe-Russia), Data Centers (Lamda Helix, Greece) and anywhere else high quality at the right price is the driving factor. SIRECLED is not just another manufacturer but a trusted lighting partner to cover all lighting needs. www.sirecled.com
HDI Global SE, Engineering lines offer insurance protection solutions against the risks threatening projects under construction or in operation. A variety of perils, both internal (e.g.: breakdown, faulty material or design, human error or negligence) and external (e.g.: fire, natural hazards) may often cause significant damage to the project itself and its materials, and also lead to damages to third parties, as a consequence. The covers offered include: • Construction All Risks, Erection All Risks (CAR / EAR) • Section I: Material damage, Section II: Construction / Erection Third Party Liability, Section IV: Delay in Start-up (DSU) during Construction / Erection • Contractor’s Plant and Machinery (CPM) • Machinery Breakdown (MB) & Business Interruption (MBBI) • Electronic Equipment (EEI) • Civil Engineer’s Completed Risks (CECR) & Business Interruption (BI) for Infrastructures in Operation The main areas of activities we can provide cover for, are: • Infrastructure (road and rail works, pipelines, dams, ports). • Renewable energy production units (Solar, Wind, Hydro). • Conventional energy production units (Natural gas, Lignite, Diesel). • Heavy Industry: assembly of new production lines and/or machinery breakdown during operation. 8 | BUSINESS AXIS MAGAZINE
• Buildings Construction works (including industrial, warehouse, hotel units, hospitals, building complexes, etc.). • Electronic equipment (sound/vision, telecommunications, medical diagnostic). The nature of this kind of insurance requires specialization as well as wide knowledge of technical matters, and a constant learning on new technologies and methods. Over the years, HDI has become the strategic partner of large corporate and industrial clients and gained the trust of large scale construction companies and concessionaires like Olympia Odos. With its long experience in industrial and construction risks and its large network of engineers and technical experts of several specialties, HDI has become the preferred insurer of Olympia Odos throughout its construction and operational phase. HDI GLOBAL SE HDI Global SE Hellas branch is strategically active in Greece since 1998 as well as in the wider Balkan and South-Eastern European region as an international player, in alignment with HDI’s global reach. The contribution of the financial stability and reliability of HDI Global SE and the Talanx Group is vital. Throughout more than 20 years now, the Engineering line in Greece has handled and indemnified a significant number of large claims, responding directly and effectively to clients’ needs, while maintaining a healthy portfolio overall.
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hesive link to the wider European continent, was a driving force behind the creation of the Olympia Odos project.
It is an admirable look towards future proofing, and only the tip of the iceberg in that regard. Nonetheless, many of the greatest accomplishments exemplified by Olympia Odos came not only from the formative years of the project, but also the expertise it united in unilaterally pushing the venture forward.
Spanning some 202 kilometres, or around 130 miles, the toll motorway links Patras to Korinthos and Elefsina, but was not designed solely with convenience and reduction of journey times in mind. Among other accolades, this was in fact the first Greek motorway system taking into account ‘green perspectives’ – and as such, has even been designed to incorporate the likes of eco-friendly service stations and the technology by which to refuel new, modern electric and hybrid vehicles.
SMOOTHING THE ROCKY ROAD TO SUCCESS It is no secret that much of Europe has weathered quite the intensive few years, economically speaking – and Greece as a whole certainly has not been a stranger to that degree of financial constraint. Indeed, at the time BUSINESS AXIS MAGAZINE | 9
“IT WAS RECOGNISED AS ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT PROJECTS IN GREECE FOR DECADES”
of the Greek financial crisis, the entire Olympia Odos project was halted for three years, resuming under restructured circumstances from 2014. However, let us not get ahead of ourselves in identifying just how such a prominent project first came to be. August 2008 was the official concession commencement date for Olympia Odos overall, and began what was to become a 30 year contract of not only designing and building this crucial motorway and testament to Greek modernisation – but also managing, maintaining and operating it. 10 | BUSINESS AXIS MAGAZINE
The entire endeavour was made even more challenging by virtue of being undertaken under traffic. “As the only project of its kind built under traffic in this way, it was recognised as one of the most difficult projects in Greece for decades,” thought leaders at Olympia Odos remarked when detailing the endeavour to Business Axis. “However, drivers today benefit greatly from its service, not only due to a smooth drive that reduces travel times, but also weather forecasts and up to the minute traffic information.” Olympia Odos has implemented a customer service system that utilises
state of the art computing to predict traffic rhythms, particularly during national holidays and other periods of significant mass transit. Cutting edge technologies are also in place today to ensure corrective and preventative maintenance measures are undertaken on the motorway with a minimum of disruption, while maintenance and patrol teams are active 7 days a week, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year – aligned with local law enforcement and other emergency services – to ensure smooth running from the top to the tail of the road. The reason why the project was undertaken under traffic had much to do with the fact that the Athens to Patras A8 route already existed as a bustling motorway in its own right – indeed, the modernisation of this existing infrastructure, stretching back as it did to the 1960s, formed one crux of the Olympia Odos project overall. The extension linking the motorway further to Pyrgos was a further motion in its own right, taking much planning and development.
ment of national road travel and the safety thereof overall – although the fact that the Olympia Odos project has brought this Greek motorway in line with European safety standards across the board is certainly welcome. “We have also ushered in new employment opportunities for every town and city along the motorway’s length – and not just during our construction phase,” the organisation remarked. “Further job openings for these communities will open up throughout the 30 years of our concession over the route.” THE BRAINS OF THE OPERATION The motorway under Olympia Odos’ control reached its 2017 construction deadline despite the hiatus created by the Greek financial crisis, and likewise
Altogether, Olympia Odos represents one of the most technically complex and deeply challenging infrastructural undertakings ever implemented in Greece. Naturally, the benefits of the project extend beyond the improveBUSINESS AXIS MAGAZINE | 11
continued successful operation into its full completion of all construction activities in 2018. While remarkable in its own right, the sheer volume of talent and expertise united to make such a project possible only compounds the dedication of the project overall – and the confidence held by all stakeholders in the benefits to commerce, tourism and domestic lifestyles enjoyed by Greece it promised.
neers, foremen and workers were ‘in the trenches’, so to speak, for approximately 26 million work hours over a 10-year construction period,” Olympia Odos offered Business Axis, by means of emphasising the sheer effort and willpower involved in this project. “Naturally, additional indirect employment was also created through material procurement, facilities, restaurants etc. on all towns along the motorway.”
Even as early as the design stage, some 20,000 technical drawings were submitted by leading designers and infrastructural architects – 80 of them, in fact. “At the project’s peak, more than 100 subcontractors and 2,300 engi-
Across all disciplines, the project sustained a personnel complement of approximately 3,500 at its highest, 550 of whom remain in work across the motorway’s span for heavy and routine maintenance, traffic management
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centre staff and patrol jobs today. The completed motorway has been recorded as reducing travel times for commuters by 20 to 40 per cent, and perhaps most notably, has been instrumental in ensuring that the more remote small towns and communities along its length and throughout the Peloponnese region of Greece are able to access the opportunities afforded by big cities like Athens and Patras. Moreover, with urbanisation on the rise worldwide, this has helped ease the demographic shift and likewise boost the availability of jobs and education opportunities to those living in those communities. Likewise, accessible healthcare and freedom of movement to emergency services when required in those smaller communities is already providing demonstrable benefits â€“ and saving lives. Far more than just laying tarmac, doubling lane numbers and modernising existing motorway infrastructure, the Olym-
pia Odos project added much in the way of tunnels and amenities to the entire route. Yet even these logistical hurdles were, as Olympia Odos informed Business Axis knowingly, just the beginning of the technical challenges and considerations that experts had to tackle to make the development a reality. STAYING INNOVATIVE UNDER PRESSURE The modernisation of Greek infrastructure relates not only to its harbours and airports, but also its roads and rail. As such, ensuring that the Olympia Odos construction initiative did not interfere indirectly with other developmental projects was crucial. The development of new high speed rail links meant that the project under construction via Olympia Odos was required to negotiate and successfully intersect with that line with perfect timing as the efforts unfolded in parallel. Yet the interplay of asphalt and sleepers is just the tip of the iceberg. At times, BUSINESS AXIS MAGAZINE | 13
it would seem that the very ground of Greece itself was pitting its wits against the project, for a number of reasons – the first of which being brutally natural. “The Peloponnese region of Greece is known to be one of the most treacherously seismically active in the country, if not all of Europe,” Business Axis was advised. “The location of the motorway presented numerous geotechnical and geological issues throughout, and ones we remain cognisant of throughout the motorway’s activities today. The region is rich with rugged hinterlands and steep coastal highways, where landslides are always a risk of which to be aware.” The other terrestrial challenge facing Olympia Odos was more historical
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“26 MILLION WORK HOURS OVER A 10-YEAR CONSTRUCTION PERIOD”
by Olympia Odos’ most gifted and persuasive mediators. “These challenges were exacerbated by the vast amount of land expropriations necessary to facilitate the motorway’s implementation, which runs through several established urban settlements, villages, and towns,” the team advised us.
project as devised by Olympia Odos is as much about technology as it is about increasing traffic and travel efficiency. Better still, all such considerations have been made with the lifestyle of nearby communities and the overall green credentials of said developments in mind.
AN ANCIENT REGION WITH A NEW LEASE OF LIFE Although the rich historical tapestry of the Peloponnese region of Greece stands without question, there is no denying that the implementation of the
The tunnels as aforementioned earlier in our discussion of just how intensive the work done by the Olympia Odos consortium has proven are a key example of these ecological considerations. The LED Project, as its name BUSINESS AXIS MAGAZINE | 15
than it was geological, however. “This is among the most archaeologically significant regions in all of Greece, and ensuring that we did not disturb that valuable cultural heritage and the potential of supremely important discoveries hereabouts was always of utmost importance,” the concessionary team advised us, going on to further elaborate how they collaborated with leading experts in the field to acquiesce to these concerns however possible.
more – much older – Rome awaiting beneath, so too does the Peloponnese region of Greece offer its own similarly historical challenges – some of which stretch as far back as 5000 BC. And of course, this is all on top of the already existing budgetary concerns and the related timeframe considerations brought about by a remarkable recession and associated financial crisis that thwarted any and all of the best of Greek efforts to move forward.
Indeed, just as many quip wryly that the reason Rome doesn’t have a subway system is because one cannot dig up any part of Rome without just finding
And of course, the number of communities and territories through which new stretches of motorway, especially, were to stretch meant plenty of negotiation
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implies, has systematically worked to ensure that low energy, high efficiency modern LED lighting has been used in some tunnels throughout the motorway system. Beyond the obvious carbon footprint reduction offered by this incentive, to say nothing of the economic benefits, this incentive proved the first of its kind in Greece, hopefully paving the way for many further such incentives to follow in those road networks looking to modernise by the fine example set down by Olympia Odos. However, the technological insights put forward by Olympia Odos in its existing and modernised motorway network are as much about enhancing the driver experience as they are promoting environmental conscientiousness. The online traffic tracking live system is an apt example here â€“ it reports not only the flow of traffic across the last 15 minutes in real time for drivers and passengers to access in the palm of their hand, but also utilises metrics, statistics and algorithms to accurately predict the traffic to come. At select toll stations along the motorway, drivers can also access up to the minute traffic predictions that reach as far as 72 hours ahead to inform on the best times to travel. The marriage of both driver convenience and environmental consideraBUSINESS AXIS MAGAZINE | 17
tion seems best exemplified in the new and modern motorist service stations found throughout the routes of Olympia Odos’ design. These welcoming buildings demonstrate up to 45 per cent energy efficiency in comparison to their contemporaries, but skimp on no creature comforts or amenities for doing so. And of course, for those drivers utilising electric vehicles, a charging station for those has been inaugurated in the service station at Psathopyrgos. Moreover, Olympia Odos has made apparent plans to integrate natural gas refuelling stations along the motorway route in the near future also. This degree of future proofing and anticipating motoring trends is not just inspiration for technological investment on behalf of those using the road, however. Olympia Odos has also proactively introduced the means by which to ensure that its own maintenance, repair and patrol works are undertaken with bleeding edge technology and utmost efficacy. That includes the use of so called ‘smart tunnel’ technology – predictive electromechanical maintenance and analysis conducted throughout the already modern tunnels lining the motorway’s length.
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Eyes in the sky ensure that the ground level road infrastructure remains intact, functional and efficient throughout also. Aerial patrols make use of lidar technology with pinpoint accuracy to notice deviations and damage in the road surface, while smaller and more agile drones are able to both survey damage to infrastructural elements – lighting posts, walls and the like – from an unobtrusive distance, but also get up close and personal to deliver de-
“ROME DOESN’T HAVE A SUBWAY SYSTEM IS BECAUSE ONE CANNOT DIG UP ANY PART OF ROME WITHOUT JUST FINDING MORE – MUCH OLDER – ROME AWAITING BENEATH”.
tailed analysis to task forces to form a game plan around. With the end user in mind once again though, Olympia Odos is devising a distance based electronic toll collection hybrid system that charges drivers more fairly for the amount they travel – this system will be rolled out during the course of 2019. Of course, with Olympia Odos at the helm it is no surprise to learn that this system is the first of its kind in Greece.
The consortium has its hand in tourism too, assisting in the development of virtual reality tourism software and hardware that promotes the natural beauty and history of the Peloponnese region of Greece. THE ROAD TO TOMORROW – THE POTHOLES AND PROMISE Overall, despite the challenges and delays foisted upon the project by circumstance, the Olympia Odos construction BUSINESS AXIS MAGAZINE | 19
TMC & Technical Base Drepano
Patra Wide Bypass
Frontal Toll Station
Interchange with ramp toll station
Motorway Service Station
Bridges over 100m
initiative has led to a smooth, modern, affordable road and motorway span in a culturally and economically crucial part of Greece, all while keeping community spirit, big city convenience and cultural heritage inherent to successful day to day operation. To call this a tough act to follow would be an understatement – indeed, the international acclaim bequeathed to Olympia Odos by recent award ceremonies, to say nothing of further coverage and accolades, pays utmost testament to that. Nonetheless, challenges remain in bringing such a high standard of infrastructure to wider Greece, 20 | BUSINESS AXIS MAGAZINE
and helping to uplift the road networks of the country to the standards set by its European contemporaries. Leading minds at Olympia Odos itself perhaps summarise the feeling of the room, so to speak, best in their own words. “In the past decades, Greece was rather behind much of wider Europe in road infrastructure, both in terms of the quality of the road network and its modernisation, and in terms of appropriate organisation and management of its existing motorways. Following the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece, much of the thinking surrounding all this changed for the better.”
ta Akrata Derveni Akrata/ Aigeira Tunnels
Mavra Litharia Tunnels
Lykoporia TMC & Technical Base
Thiva/ Elefsina Megara Pachi
Kakias Skalas Tunnels
Tripoli Ancient Korinthos
With the eyes of the world on Greece, it stands to reason that the nation wanted to give its best, and a renewed interest in overhauling and modernising all forms of transportation and logistics in the country was initiated in earnest. But of course, nobody could have seen the financial crisis that followed, either in Greece or across the rest of the world – and that we as a planet are tentatively stepping into a collective recovery phase today does not always guarantee confidence or a willingness to overlook the risks of seemingly speculative investment. Nonetheless, a seven billion euro investment programme enacted by the Greek
government following the 2004 Olympic Games saw toll booths and concessionary projects take hold across the roads and motorways of the country. Concession and PPP incentives are widely agreed to be the best way to move forward overall today, then, yet – as Olympia Odos noted – there is also an element of apprehension in the air. To develop successful projects, it is of essence to adopt a win-win-win approach for the public partner, the private investor or lenders, and the users and stakeholders. In exemplifying the rewards that come from this strategy, Olympia Odos has set an apparent and internationally recognised new benchmark in that regard. BUSINESS AXIS MAGAZINE | 21
“OUR AMBITION IS THAT OLYMPIA ODOS WILL CONTINUE TO BE A MODERN AND INNOVATIVE INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT, WHICH RESPONDS TO THE HIGH EXPECTATIONS OF EUROPEAN DRIVERS”.
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Dr. Panayiotis Papanikolas received a degree in civil engineering from the National Technical University of Athens in 1987. In 1990 he obtained a Master's degree in Structural Engineering from the University of Alberta in Canada, and in 1995 he received his PhD in Structural Engineering. In July 1998, he was elected Associate Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Alberta but was forced to refuse this honorary challenge because at the same time he had accepted the position of the Technical Director for the Design and Construction of the Rio-Antirrion Bridge. The most important milestones in his professional career are the following: Technical Director for the Design and Construction of the Rion – Antirrion Bridge (cabled bridge of multiple openings) from 1998-2004, Chief Engineer at the Regional Office of Ioannina of the Egnatia Odos (600 km Motorway) from 2004-2009, from 2009-today he has held the following positions: Country Manager (Greece) of Vinci Concessions SA, Chairman and Managing Director of Gefyra SA (Rio Antirrion Bridge), Chief Executive Officer of Olympia Odos SA (tolled motorway concession company of 220 km connecting Athens to Patra) and General Secretary of HELLASTRON.
As for business as usual for Olympia Odos though, the future of the organisation, as the transition from construction to maintenance and operation is secured, is a future in which the consortium will continue to lead by example. “Our ambition is that Olympia Odos will continue to be a modern and innovative infrastructural development, which responds to the high expectations of European drivers,” the team highlighted in closing. Succinct words summarising a remarkable ambition – built on the solid foundations of a motorway network that proves that even the most challenging of Greek thoroughfares can see transformation and reinvigoration through effort, ingenuity and effective management throughout.
Olympia Odos Tel : +30 22960 95555 www.olympiaodos.gr/en
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Guiding the Road to a More Prosperous Greece. A project over a decade in the making, the Olympia Odos concession and its resulting toll moto...
Published on Apr 15, 2019
Guiding the Road to a More Prosperous Greece. A project over a decade in the making, the Olympia Odos concession and its resulting toll moto...