Intercity railway 'in reach'.
AN INTERCITY railway in Cyprus could reduce transport carbon emissions by up to 70 per cent and pay for itself in 15 years, according to a recent University of Cyprus studym published yesterday.
The study also shows the idea reviving the Cyprus railway has overwhelming popular support, with 74 per cent approval among those interviewed by a team of six undergraduates who did the research.
The students' academic advisor for the project, assistant professor Christakis Constantinides said yesterday: "Around 73 per cent of the 300 people asked to complete questionnaires were in favour of constructing and using a railway."
Constantinides said that most respondents were in favour of trains because of their relatively low cost -- were a train to be more expensive than the car, most Cypriots would forego the extra safety and speed benefits.
Constantinides said: "Some 54 per cent of respondents expressed disinterest in the railway if it was going to cost more than the car."
He said that safety and speed were the next most important criteria, with 38 per cent and 37 per cent respectively saying these made rail travel more attractive than cars.
"The railway is pretty safe, cheap and fast, but the 28 per cent of respondents also included luxury and comfort among the influential factors."
So what sort of a service could be introduced in Cyprus?
To answer this question, students began by examining three major types of railway --the TGV, ICE and maglev and assessing their costs and benefits.
The students based their project costing on the most modest of the three trains, the ICE, which has an average speed of 300 kilometres per hour and a 385 passenger capacity, and would cost around e1/41,858,130,000 to get up and running.
Most of this (e1/41,820,000,000) would be spent on tracks, with around e1/437,500,000 on trains and e1/4216,000 on the stations.
Supposing the European Union subsides half of the costs, as they have done on similar initiatives, and the annual net income from the railway reaches their estimate of e1/461,400,020, the full cost could be recovered in 15 years.
In the meantime, Cyprus could reap other environmental and economic benefits, as Constantinides said: "Based on our computations, using transport carbon emission data from the (Cypriot) public works department, we expect a 50 to 70 per cent reduction in transport emissions if a railway is used."
The student report says: "In addition to the huge reduction of pollutants, reduction of automobile traffic, there will be significant improvement in quality of life of the inhabitants, which is supported by multiple studies to advanced European countries.
Could it ever happen? Constantinides thinks so: "The estimates that we have made are conservative. We think that such a project is in reach for the government."
Rail travel is, after all, nothing new for Cyprus: From 1905 to 1951 the Cyprus Government Railway managed 122km of tracks and some 62 stations and stops.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2011
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