Tragedy of a Greek practice reveals continual failures of the state

Knowledgeable sources mentioned that the practice tragedy that unfolded in Greece this week, claiming dozens of lives within the worst railway catastrophe within the nation, revealed continual failures by successive administrations.

They argue that this was a crash ready to occur. A passenger practice with greater than 350 folks on board ran for a number of kilometers on the identical monitor because the oncoming freight practice, after the pinnacle of the station in downtown Larissa failed to vary the course of one of many trains.

The 59-year-old, who’s charged with negligent murder, has admitted partial duty for the incident. However his lawyer mentioned Thursday that there are different elements at play.

“My shopper has taken his share of the duty,” mentioned Stefanos Pantzartzidis. “However we must always not concentrate on a tree when there’s a forest behind it.”

State tv ERT reported that the pinnacle of the station had been appointed to the place simply 40 days earlier after a coaching course that lasted solely three months.

Many years of mismanagement For many years, Greece’s 2,552-kilometre (1,585-mile) railway community has suffered from mismanagement, poor upkeep, and outdated gear.

Though the nation’s mountainous terrain is just not conducive to in depth railway networks, it’s no coincidence that the majority Greeks want to journey by automobile, bus or ferry.

Incident analyst Konstantinos Hasiotis says there have been lengthy delays in putting in an digital practice security radar system, which Greece initially acquired twenty years in the past.

“The duty should be borne by whoever managed the modernization of the community,” Hasiotis informed AFP.

The top of the practice drivers’ union, Costas Gnedonia, mentioned his group would quickly challenge proof of political duty for the security failures.

“There are a lot of paperwork that we are going to make public,” he mentioned, including that as a result of digital safeguards haven’t been in operation since 2000, practice management remains to be dealt with “manually”.

With Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hoping to safe re-election in a poll anticipated subsequent month, the federal government has been fast to grab on the station chief’s mistake, pointing to the failures of earlier administrations.

“I consider the pinnacle of the station has admitted duty, negligence and error,” authorities spokesman Yiannis Economou mentioned on Thursday.

However he additionally acknowledged “delays” in putting in security safeguards on the highway the place the accident occurred, the results of “continual malaise and a long time of failure” in state administration.

The community is in disrepair: The accident additionally uncovered a bewildering mixture of duties between the non-public railway firm Hellenic Practice — the state firm OSE that also owns the rail community — and a state watchdog nominally charged with overseeing.

“The community is in dangerous form – however we do not examine its situation,” RAS head Ioanna Tsiaparikou informed ERT TV on Thursday.

Hellenic Practice this week additionally famous that “the rail community and rail visitors are operated by OSE, a Greek state firm”.

In January, Tsiapariko mentioned the rail community is poorly maintained and the engines are outdated. It additionally highlighted the employees scarcity, noting that some stations are nonetheless empty.

Three weeks in the past, unionists representing practice crews on the Greek practice warned of a “critical” scarcity of employees.

In December, the air transport providers watchdog (RAS) fined the Hellenic practice €300,000 after greater than 800 passengers have been stranded in extreme climate throughout a chilly snap almost a yr in the past.

Final month, the European Fee referred Greece to the EU Court docket of Justice for failing to signal and publish an settlement with the OSE that’s required below a 2012 Directive, for transparency.

Though the directive was not particularly linked to issues of safety, a spokesperson for the Fee famous Thursday that the EU has already supported 16 railway tasks in Greece since 2014 with round 700 million euros ($741 million).

Stalled modernization Greek Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis, who resigned inside hours of the catastrophe, acknowledged that the federal government’s efforts to enhance circumstances over the previous three and a half years have been “sadly not sufficient to stop such an accident”.

Greek media revealed a message from the previous head of the European Rail Site visitors System (ERTMS) in Greece, Christos Katsiolis, wherein he mentioned that infrastructure upgrades pending since 2016 are incomplete. He warned that practice speeds of as much as 200 km (124 mph) weren’t protected.

Katsioulis resigned final yr.

“Till 2010, there was some modernization within the signaling of the railway community, however in the course of the monetary disaster, the safety methods began to interrupt down,” remembers Panagiotis Terizakis, an OSE marketing consultant.

A young to improve the rail community in northern Greece was scheduled for later this month.


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