Grief and horror reign in Greece after the serious train accident that left at least 46 dead and dozens injured. Cruel details are now coming to light: The family who lost three young daughters when two trains collided on Wednesday night; the parents who are still desperately waiting for the bodies to be identified in order to obtain certainty. Some of the victims are completely burned and can only be identified by DNA analysis, which takes time. It is therefore expected that the number of deaths will continue to rise. At the same time, accusations against the state and the state railway company are piling up. The electronic control system is said to have hardly worked for 20 years.
"What are you waiting for to intervene? What else needs to happen?" This is what it says in a letter that railway unionists sent to the state railway company and the Ministry of Transport just three weeks ago. They had repeatedly denounced the conditions in writing and explained the problems in detail.
Not working or even out of service
Accordingly, the light signals on the approximately 500-kilometer Athens-Thessaloniki route have not worked for many years. The ETCS (European Train Control System) - the system that stops the train when danger is imminent and thus also protects against human error - is out of order. In addition, for 15 years now, the safety and lighting systems in the tunnels have not been fully functional.
The admission of the station master in the city of Larisa, who is said to have ultimately caused the accident through wrong decisions and actions, almost fades into the background. The 59-year-old was arrested on Wednesday after the accident and charged with manslaughter and bodily harm. According to media reports, he admitted to having made mistakes and thereby sent the passenger train onto the wrong track, so that it collided head-on with a freight train on the open line.
Many people in Greece perceive the stationmaster as a pawn sacrifice. Both in Athens and in Thessaloniki there were strikes by the railway workers on Thursday and protests, some of them violent, in front of the offices of the railway operator, Hellenic Trains. However, this is not responsible at all - the infrastructure of the network is in the hands of the state company OSE. Their boss resigned, just like the Greek Minister of Transport. Observers expect that there will be more resignations and sackings - even if the serious accident is far from being fully explained.