Loveland Reporter-Herald

Workers, relatives say train system unsafe


Railway workers’ associatio­ns called strikes, halting national rail services and the subway in Athens to protest working conditions and what they described as a dangerous failure to modernize the rail system. A second 24hour strike was called for Friday.

Two separate protests in central Athens were held by left-wing groups, with one resulting in clashes between stone-throwing youths and riot police. Protests were also held in Thessaloni­ki and Larissa.

Critics blame a lack of public investment during the deep financial crisis that spanned most of the previous decade and brought Greece to the brink of bankruptcy. It was during the crisis, in 2017, that the rail operator, then heavily losing money, was privatized and bought by Italy’s Ferrovie dello Stato

Italiane Group.

Greece has a limited rail network that doesn’t reach much of the country. Despite years of modernizat­ion projects, much of the key rail control work is still manually operated.

The head of the engine drivers’ union, Costas Genidounia­s, said an upto-date traffic control system was supposed to have been ready three years ago. He said that starting in 2020, union representa­tives sent legal notices to the company responsibl­e for Greece’s railway infrastruc­ture, OSE, as well as government and regulatory officials, but received no reply.

OSE issued a statement Thursday expressing condolence­s to the victims’ families but it has not publicly commented on the criticism.

Markos Bekris, a union representa­tive who took part in the peaceful Athens protest Thursday, said the collision was “a crime waiting to happen.” how two trains traveled in opposite directions on the same track for more than 10 minutes without anyone raising the alarm.

The Larissa station manager was charged Thursday with multiple counts of manslaught­er and causing serious physical harm through negligence. His name was not released.

The stationmas­ter’s lawyer, Stefanos Pandzardzi­dis, said his client was “devastated” and accepted “his portion of the responsibi­lity.”

“But beyond that ... we must not focus on the tree while there’s a whole forest beyond it,” he said. “There’s a forest of responsibi­lity.”

Bournazis agreed that the responsibi­lity for the crash should go far beyond the stationmas­ter.

“We can’t dump all the blame on one person for making one mistake,” he said.

He said the crash should lead to a full safety overhaul of the country’s rail system.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States