Carydi, I. (2019) “Integrated Railway Planning in the North West Peloponnese”, disP – The Planning Review, 55:1, 68-84, DOI: 10.1080/02513625.2019.1598112
Railway planning in Greece has for many years been oriented towards the technological modernization of the railway network. The relevant planning agendas have often left the wider socio-spatial interests untouched, delivering infrastructure that is often detached from its surroundings. Such is the case of North West Peloponnese, where centrally managed railway interventions clashed with local priorities. This generated place-specific problems and bottlenecks relating to the intermodal nature of railway and the connectivity of Patras, the region’s major port. For scholarly audiences, these phenomena manifest a gap in the planning process. In effect, railway infrastructures are not easily embedded into to the particularities of the geographical context. By seeking an effective resolution to this problem, this paper investigates the influence of railway redevelopment in the wider urbanization processes across North West Peloponnese. In this context, it describes how railways may become an effective and competitive factor through the development of local synergies within the wider geographical specificities of its area of influence. It is argued that in order to conceptualize the description of synergies which directly or indirectly affect rail restructuring, there is a need for a new scale of observation. One that becomes instrumental through the conceptualization of “service ecologies”, a term employed here to describe the intra-regional dependencies and interactions between railway infrastructures, stakeholders and land use regimes. This methodology draws primarily on the design research that the author of this paper conducted during the Test Planning Procedure for Patras in 2015. This provided insights to alternative working scenarios for the efficient and cost effective railway connection in North West Peloponnese. The paper concludes that integrated railway development does not rely on the optimization of a single infrastructural element or territorial scale, but rather on the careful orchestration of a synthetic landscape of networked infrastructures shaping space, regulating flows and interacting with actors besides mobility service provisions.