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Train Collision in Greece: Electronic Systems ‘Not Working for Years’

Train collision Greece
At least 32 people were killed and more than 50 injured in one of the worst rail accidents in Greece. Credit: AMNA

Experts say that the train collision in Greece late on Tuesday that led to the death of at least 36 people was probably caused by human error due to the fact that the electronic systems onboard trains are “not working for years.”

The passenger train with 350 passengers on board and the cargo train that were involved in the fatal head-on crash at Tempi near the city of Larissa were moving on the same line.

The northbound passenger train from Athens to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, was for some reason moving on the left line of the railway which is reserved for southbound trains.

Two rail officials were being questioned by police but had not been detained.

The president of the train drivers’ association, Kostas Genidounias, revealed that the electronic systems that warn drivers of danger ahead have not been working for years.

“The unthinkable has happened. The two trains were found on the same track,” he told public television ERT.

“Nothing works, everything is done manually. We are ‘in manual mode’ throughout the Athens-Thessaloniki network,” he said, emphasizing that neither the indicators, the traffic lights, nor the electronic traffic control is working.

When in Athens the station master gives the green light to move to the next station. This procedure is done at approximately 15 points on the route from Athens to Thessaloniki because no telemonitoring, or photo-signaling system is working, he said.

“The train drivers take orders and wherever they take us, we go.”

He added that in the past electronic systems worked and the responsibilities should be sought by the authorities. “We constantly protest,” Genidounias added.

Giannis Ditsas, another railway official, said that security precautions in Greece’s railway system are archaic.

Speaking to Open TV he said that the two trains were moving on the same track for 10-12 minutes, but there is no electronic device that will alert drivers to the danger of collision.

“Only the station master has the ability to see electronically the movement of trains. If he had seen the danger he would have alerted the drivers and ordered the trains to stop.”

This is a breaking news story; more to follow.

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