Train accident in Greece: partial resumption of rail traffic, announces Hellenic Train

Rail traffic in Greece partially resumed on some intercity lines near Athens on Wednesday after a three-week halt due to the February 28 train crash that killed 57 people, operator Hellenic Train said.

These are the passenger trains connecting Piraeus, a large port near Athens, to Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (40km from the capital), those between Athens and Chalkis (80km) and two other local lines in western Peloponnese which started to circulate again early Wednesday morning, according to the operator Hellenic Train responsible for rail transport.

However, traffic on the line where the deadly head-on collision between a passenger train and a freight convoy took place on February 28 will not resume until April 1, according to the new Minister of Transport, Georges Gerapetritis.

It is the country’s main line, 600 km long and connecting Athens to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, in the north.

All regular routes will only be restored after five weeks, the minister stressed.

– regain confidence –

“We are called to move on to the next day after the tragic event that has shaken us all (…)”, Panayiotis Terezakis, new director general of the Public Railways Organization (OSE), told the media on Wednesday. the public company responsible for maintaining the infrastructure and the railway network.

He assured that “he would do everything humanly possible to regain the confidence of our passengers” and “to put the country’s trains back into service”.

The minister last week promised additional security measures including two drivers on intercity trains and “three assistants instead of two so far on Intercity passenger trains between Athens and Thessaloniki”.

Attributed mainly to an error by the station master on duty that evening, this accident, the worst that Greece has known, also revealed certain negligence on the part of the State in the modernization of train safety systems.

Rail transport in Greece is relatively underdeveloped and comprises only around 2,100 km of track. A dense network of coaches serves the main towns and villages of the country.

The day after the accident, then Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned.

Massive angry protests, often violent, have rocked Athens and other cities since the disaster, pointing the finger at the conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis but also his leftist predecessors for neglecting train safety.

Under pressure, Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced Tuesday evening that the general elections would be held in May without however specifying the exact date.

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