The latest deadline for opening and operating the primary line of the long-awaited and oft-delayed Thessaloniki metro is now November 2024, according to a relevant deputy minister and contractors on Tuesday.

Speaking during a press conference in the northern city, Deputy Transport Minister Nikos Tahiaos and the CEO of Aktor, the lead contractor, said almost all work on 13 metro stations is completed, while electro-mechanical systems are now in the pilot testing phase.

The briefing was held at the metro’s new depot, while government officials, contractor executives and a coterie of reporters then boarded a driver-less rail car for a test run along the main line.

“Photo-ops” have previously been employed by successive governments, but only on stationary metro cars.

According to Aktor CEO and president Alexandros Exarchou, the contractor is “committed towards a November completion…There is currently no obstacle before the project. We have promised that…we will speed up work on the metro with an absolute priority. I, personally, and my team are monitoring progress on a daily basis to ensure that it will be completed by November 2024.”

An extension of the metro line eastwards, towards the Kalamaria municipality, is expected to be completed and turned over to the state-run operator in the summer of 2025.

On-and-off again efforts to design, finance and finally commence construction of a underground fixed rail line in Thessaloniki date back decades, with the ongoing project plagued over the past years with several obstacles, including the discovery of major antiquities and ancient urban structures along tunnel routes and sub-terranean stations.