Swiss-Greek Symposium: Train, Tourism and Regional Development
An excursion into the past, present and future of Peloponnesian and Rhaetian Railways

The Peninsula of Peloponnese offers a variety of attractions for all kinds of tourists and travellers. Landscapes of exceptional natural beauty, important archaeological sites, historical sites and monuments, significant cultural events, and, most importantly, high-quality agricultural products. It is not by accident that the romantic and bucolic vision of the European philosophical, literary and artistic movements of the 18th century took place in Arcadia, the very heart of Peloponnese. As the cradle of the modern Greek State, the Peloponnese is today a place of exceptional historic value. The Hellenic Revolution of 1821 started here and the first capital of Greece was Nafplio.

The railway was an early driver of economic and spatial development for the Peloponnese. The first metric lines were established 1882. However, due to the economic crises in Greece, most parts of the metric system have been closed down since 2011, even though it had been renewed with EU support shortly before.

If the railway attained a modern, sustainable state leading to high-quality tourism, then as a ‘vehicle’ could be used to promote the desired spatial decentralisation as one way out of the existing social and economic crisis.

The Chair of Spatial Development at ETH Zurich, organised a Swiss–Greek Symposium on the topic of Train, Tourism and Regional Development as a means of stimulating the discussion on the reactivation of the existing railway network in the Peloponnese.

At the symposium, the experiences of the Swiss Rhaetian Railways, a successful local system, was discussed to examine possible opportunities for developing the Peloponnese Railway as a driver for tourism and for a regional and more sustainable spatial development. Since 2008, the Albula and Bernina Lines of the Rhaetian Railways are one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Therefore, the symposium explored the possibility of applying to UNESCO for the Peloponnese Railway to be considered a world heritage site.