'Serious' Safety Faults In Greek Rail Network: Watchdog

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

Athens: Greece's rail watchdog on Friday said a probe had uncovered serious signs of poor training among staff on duty during the country's deadliest train tragedy, which killed 57 people last month.

The Regulatory Authority for Railways (RAS) in a statement said the shortcomings constituted an 'immediate and serious' threat to public safety, after finding 'lack of proof' that recently hired stationmasters had completed the required basic training.

It blamed the state-owned Hellenic Railways Organisation that owns the network for 'inadequate' training of 'critical' personnel.

'The training provided by OSE... to staff conducting critical safety duties was lacking and therefore inadequate,' the independent authority said.

The investigation was launched on March 3, three days after two trains collided, killing 57 people, RAS said at the time.

The stationmaster on duty on the night of the accident has admitted mistakenly allowing the passenger and freight trains to run on the same track for several kilometres.

But railway unions had long been warning about problems on the underfunded and understaffed train network.

The disaster has sparked weeks of angry and occasionally violent protests, and has piled major pressure on the conservative government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ahead of elections expected in May.

Some 40,000 people protested in cities around Greece on Thursday, with many calling on the government to resign.

Another protest with some 65,000 people nationwide was held last week.


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