Greek rail workers strike as anger grows over deadly crash

Protests erupt in Athens as death toll from train collision rises to 57

train crash greece
Rescue workers are searching wreckage following the head-on crash near Larissa
(Image credit: Stringer/SOOC/AFP via Getty Images)

Rail workers across Greece are staging a 24-hour walkout today as the death toll from Tuesday’s train crash continues to climb.

At least 57 people are confirmed to have been killed, and dozens more are missing, after a passenger train and a freight train collided on the same stretch of track near the central city of Larissa. As rescue workers continue to search for survivors, the rail workers’ union blamed successive governments’ “disrespect” towards Greek railways for the tragedy.

Union bosses “said that their repeated calls for more permanent staff, more training, and the implementation of modern security technology had been ignored”, Reuters reported.

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Amid growing national anger, protestors “clashed” with police yesterday outside the Athens headquarters of Hellenic Train, “the company responsible for maintaining Greece's railways”, said the BBC.

A 59-year-old station master in Larissa has been charged with manslaughter and grievous bodily harm through negligence. He has denied any wrongdoing and has reportedly blamed the crash on a technical fault.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has promised a full, independent investigation into the “horrific rail accident without precedent in our country”. The crash appeared to be “mainly due to a tragic human error”, he said, but did not give further details.

Yiannis Ditsas, head of the railway workers union, told Skai TV that automatic signalling at the site of the crash had not been working. Kostas Genidounias, the president of the OSE train drivers’ union, told AFP that the “unimaginable” incident “would have been avoided if the safety systems were working”.

Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned yesterday, saying he was taking responsibility for the state’s “long-standing failures” to fix the country’s ageing railway network.

Around 350 people were on board the high-speed passenger train to Thessaloniki when the collision occurred. Many were students returning to university after a “long holiday weekend marking the beginning of Greek Orthodox lent”, said Athens-bsed paper Kathimerini.

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