Trains in Greece went back into gradual operation on Wednesday following the rail tragedy at Tempi on February 28 that cost the lives of 57 people and injured scores more.
The gradual reopening of the railway system was announced by State Minister responsible for Infrastructure & Transport Giorgos Gerapetritis on March 14, following a review of and implementation of safety measures.
National and suburban train services restarted only along limited sections of the rail network, with additional train and station staff and compulsory speed reduction points at areas where the potential for a collision is considered higher.
The first train of the day was the 04:45 a.m. service from Athens to Inoi, 60 kilometers (37 miles) to the north. The suburban rail service from Athens to its international airport was also restored.
Full services will resume on April 11, including railway transportation between Athens and Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki.
The European Commission will closely monitor the implementation of Greek reforms related to the railways’ upgrade and safety in the aftermath of a deadly train crash, Gerapetritis said on Tuesday.
Speaking in Brussels the Greek minister said all railway safety digital upgrade projects would be closely monitored by the European Commission and should be completed by the end of September 2023.
Rail tragedy derails political establishment in Greece
On Tuesday embattled PM Kyriakos Mistotakis confirmed that the elections in Greece will be held in May, without specifying the date.
Mitsotakis and his government have been under pressure after the rail tragedy at Tempi. Successive opinion polls show that the once unassailable lead of his New Democracy party is being challenged.
“It was a tragedy that should never have happened. It is inconceivable to think that in Greece in 2023 there could be two trains on the same track, traveling in opposite directions, and that no one realized it,” Mitsotakis said in the interview with private Alpha television where he discussed the election date.
“I believe people, while feeling anger and rage, understand that this accident resulted from the sum of mistakes made over many decades. We now have an obligation now to deal with them drastically … We feel a heavy responsibility.”
As public anger grows over the timeless deficiencies of Greek railways, there are growing indications that Greeks are turning their backs on traditional parties, including the governing New Democracy, SYRIZA, and socialist PASOK.
The parties who have governed Greece for decades and makeup Greece’s political establishment are seen as responsible for the archaic railway system and their response to the tragedy.
The upgrade of the signaling system on trains and remote control has been on the agenda of Greek reforms since 2000. However, due to numerous shortcomings and delays, the reforms were not carried out.
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