Delays on the Turkish railways, despite European supervision, were proverbial. One European traveller wrote: "The engines proceed with patriarchal sluggishness and linger long at all the stations. Why are we waiting for no reason? The answer that comes is always the same: the steam engine is taking on water."
In 1900 a speed of 45 kilometres per hour was considered absolutely satisfactory for the engines of Macedonia. The Thessaloniki-Constantinople link was the best equipped, thanks to its military character. In 1910 it had 34 steam engines and more than 800 cars. But the incessant wars between 1912 and 1922 reduced the Macedonian network to a hopeless state.
An order for railway materials, engines and cars, mainly from Belgium, between 1926 and 1932, eased the problems somewhat, only to be followed by further incredible wartime devastation. In the autumn of 1944, 93% of the engines, 98% of the passenger cars and 84% of the freight cars belonging to the Greek Railways were destroyed, along with the greater part of the infrastructure (bridges, tunnels and stations).
The reconstruction and modernization of the network began in 1947 with American and British assistance. By the early '60s, all the steam engines had been replaced by diesel engines, and the network of Macedonia had already undergone notable improvements. In 1967, the inauguration of the "Acropolis Express" (Athens-Munich), which triumphantly entered Thessaloniki's brand new station, shortened the trip made by emigrants to Germany by as much as seven hours.
Unfortunately, the post-war updating of communications, was not the only prerequisite for the economic development of the northern provinces...