Greek Railway Workers Extend Strike to Second Day Following Deadly Train Crash

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Destroyed carriages are seen on the site of a crash, where two trains collided, near the city of Larissa, Greece, March 3, 2023. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis
Destroyed carriages are seen on the site of a crash, where two trains collided, near the city of Larissa, Greece, March 3, 2023. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

ATHENS – Greek railway workers have extended their strike to a second day, demanding safety protocols and answers after a high-speed passenger train collided head-on with a freight train, killing at least 57 people on Tuesday. The devastating accident, which also injured many others, including university students, has sparked anger among rail workers and the public alike.

Carriages were thrown off the tracks, crushed, and engulfed in flames in the accident, which occurred as the two trains were on the same track. Questions around the crash involve faulty signalling and maintenance issues, which the main rail workers union says have been ignored despite previous warnings.

“The federation has been sounding alarm bells for so many years, but it has never been taken seriously,” the union said, demanding a meeting with the new transport minister, appointed after the crash with a mandate to ensure such a tragedy can never happen again.

The union wants a clear timetable for the implementation of safety protocols and has extended its strike for a second day. More protest rallies are planned in Athens on Friday, around noon and in the evening.

Work has resumed at the crash site, where rescue staff are using cranes to lift some of the carriages that were thrown off the tracks. The operation was planned to end on Friday, but it is uncertain if more people are still missing.

Families and friends of the victims are demanding answers over how such a tragedy could have happened. “Murderers! Murderers! I will leave tomorrow with a coffin!” screamed Katerina, whose brother was missing, outside the hospital in Larissa, where many of the victims were brought. Katerina’s anger was directed at the government and the rail company. She, like other relatives, has been given a DNA sample to try and identify her brother.

The crash has left many in shock and sorrow in a country where three days of national mourning have been declared. A woman whose husband and five-year-old son were on the train said, “All those people who are there, they’re useless, useless. Some MPs are coming out and offering condolences, so what? Will it bring our children back?”

The Greek government and rail company have yet to comment on the strike or the ongoing protests. – Reuters