Station master who caused train disaster in Greece was not properly trained

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Track rescue at Larissa after the February 28 accident
NOS News

In Greece, the outcome of one of the investigations into the causes of the train disaster at the end of last month has been presented. Near the town of Larissa, a passenger train collided head-on with a freight train after they had driven towards each other on the same track for several kilometers. A fire broke out after the collision, killing 57 people.

The regulator of the Greek railways now says that the state-owned company that manages the rail network has made major mistakes. The staff on duty that night were not properly trained and neither was Larissa’s station master. He misplaced a switch, causing the trains to end up on the same track.

Incomplete and inadequate

His training was incomplete and inadequate, the regulator now says. Because of this outcome, railway employees who followed the same course are only allowed to do less responsible work for the time being.

The stationmaster is in custody awaiting trial. He risks a life sentence. The 59-year-old man acknowledges that he was negligent, but his lawyer says that other factors also played a role. For example, successive Greek governments have blocked the purchase of a safety system that can prevent trains from colliding on the same track.

The Larissa train disaster is the worst in Greek history

The government and the judiciary are also investigating the train disaster, the largest in Greek history. The unions want to speed things up. Train traffic is currently at a standstill, but the government wants trains to run again next week. Yesterday, thousands of civil servants again went on strike to enforce improvements in railway safety measures.

The train disaster may have consequences for the centre-right government of Prime Minister Mitsotakis. Elections are in a few months. Mitsotakis saw his comfortable lead quickly shrink after the disaster.

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