EU prosecutor investigates contract related to Greek train tragedy
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) has launched an investigation into a contract about the upgrade of the signalling system on Greek trains and remote control. If functional, this equipment could have prevented Tuesday’s (28 February) train crash which killed more than 50 people.
The EPPO spokesperson did not provide any details regarding the ongoing investigations in order not to prejudice their outcome.
The contract “717” was signed in 2014 and concerned the reconstruction and upgrade of the signalling system and the remote control of the Athens – Thessaloniki – Promachona railway.
However, one of the companies failed to provide the necessary certificates and combined with a lack of technical capacity, severe delays in the implementation of the project occurred.
For its part, Alshtom had all the necessary credentials and could move on with the implementation of its part of the project, EURACTIV was informed.
Although the supplementary contract was approved by the court of auditors so that the overall signalling system could be implemented and the Alshtom company co-signed the studies in July 2019, the supplementary contract was signed by the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis two years later.
As a result, the signalling and surveillance system is not in place. The remaining work to complete the 717 contract is expected to take approximately one year.
In the meantime, Greek railways are still being operated manually.
Anger, sorrow in Greece as train crash death toll rises
Anger and sorrow grew in Greece on Thursday (2 March) over a devastating train crash that killed dozens of passengers along with crew members near the central city of Larissa in the country’s worst rail disaster.
Since Thursday thousands of young Greeks have taken to the streets protesting and demanding clarity about the crash.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attributed the accident to a “human error”, and his government has set up an “investigation committee” with specialists to shed light to the tragedy and determine responsibility. The authorities do not currently know how many passengers were in the train.
The main opposition Syriza party issued a statement, saying one of the appointees to the committee, Athanasios Ziliaskopoulos, who was the managing director of Greek railways for the period 2010-2015, was responsible for the downgrade of Greek railways.
The opposition said during his days, railway staff numbers were dramatically reduced, while an EU-funded Remote Control Centre was deactivated.