Greek opposition seeks clarity over missing €600 million train investment
The main opposition Syriza party (EU Left) has asked the conservative New Democracy government (EPP) to make public all documents and communications with a private railway company which was supposed to invest €750 million, and in exchange, the government would complete all remaining train safety projects.
EURACTIV reported on Monday that in 2019, the Greek government signed an MoU with TrainOSE, a private railway company (now Hellenic Train) which currently operates passenger and freight trains on OSE lines.
According to the MoU, TrainOSE would invest €750 million in new wagons and digital upgrades of the network. In exchange, the government was responsible for completing safety systems for the company to increase itineraries.
In late 2020, TrainOSE sent the government a draft contract in line with the MoU deal, but the government postponed the signature due to the pandemic.
It seems that further talks took place in the meantime, and in the summer of 2022, the government brought to the Greek House the contract, which was different from the MoU.
The contract reduced the company’s necessary investments to €150 million, and the government got rid of its responsibility to complete the safety system upgrade.
The opposition suspects that the government backed down on the company’s investments to withdraw its own obligation to upgrade train safety, considering the difficulties in implementing existing contracts.
REVEALED: Greece, EU lost in Babel of train safety deals
The EU and Greece have been trying to put in place modern safety systems and improve Greek railways’ cross-border interoperability to connect with the rest of Europe for more than twenty years.
But a series of delays, grey contracts and zero …
All main opposition lawmakers led by Syriza chief Alexis Tsipras requested the drafts of contracts, minutes from meetings, e-mails, documents, letters and everything else related to the negotiations between the two parties.
Previously, Syriza lawmaker Nikos Pappas described the final deal as a “criminal exchange”, given that if modern safety measures were in place, a tragedy that cost the lives of 57 people could have been avoided.
Pappas also said that since May 2021, he has personally published eighteen press releases urging the government to take action in train safety and upgrade train infrastructure.
The government has not responded yet to the opposition’s request.
(Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com)