Greece's east coast port of Volos received a double boost in mid-September, with the almost simultaneous opening of a new truck ferry service to Syria and a United Nations transportation research center.
The ferry service replaces one suspended earlier this year by Hellas Ferries of Piraeus because of diminishing movement and mounting financial losses. It is operated by the newly formed Hellas-Cyprus Mediterranean Lines, set up jointly by the state-owned Greek Industrial Development Bank (ETBA) and the corresponding Cypriot state development bank.Unlike the defunct service between Volos and Tartous in Syria, HCML sailings from Volos every Wednesday. Launched Sept. 17, the service is carried out by the F/B Europa, leased from a French company, with a capacity of 70 trucks, 70 private cars and 500 passengers.
HCML's reported intention is to have four ships sailing for the line by the end of 1987.
Its dual goal is to bring about a resumption of truck trade movement to the Middle East via Greece from Balkan and central European countries and also to facilitate Greek-Cypriot trade exchanges.
Served at its peak by seven ferries, the transshipment movement began to dwindle after the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war. The situation subsequently worsened because of economies forced on Mideast countries by falling oil
revenues and the growing price advantage offered by the overland route through Turkey.
Since HCML is state-owned and also has the mission of helping Cyprus to increase its exports, profitability is understood to be a secondary consideration.
Meanwhile, the new Volos International East Mediterranean Transport Research Center, known as DEKAMM from its initials in Greek, officially opened its doors on Sept. 12.
Its establishment was decided, on Greek initiative, at a 1984 meeting of the U.N. Economic Committee for Europe in the context of the development of Mediterranean transport. It is the counterpart of a similar center for the west Mediterranean set up in Barcelona.
The Volos center has the task of proposing and executing studies on east Mediterranean transport issues, collecting and distributing information and eventually setting up a transportation databank, and organizing international meetings of experts and projecting their conclusions in countries of the region.
Overall, its mission is to promote transport cooperation among Mediterranean countries.
It will be run under U.N. guidelines by the Greek National Economy Ministry, in cooperation with the Finance, Public Works, Communications and Merchant Marine ministries, the Volos local authorities and the Athens and Thessaloniki Polytechnics.