Minister of State responsible for infrastructure and transport Giorgos Gerapetritis discussed Greece’s collaboration with the European Commission on the Tempi train collision on Tuesday.
Specifically, Geropetritis met in Brussels with Cohesion & Reforms Commissioner Elisa Ferreira, Transport Commissioner Adina Valean, and Bjoern Seibert, who is the office director of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. They discussed the head-on collision of a passenger and a freight train at Tempi in central Greece that killed 57 people, including many college students.
The EU officials expressed their condolences for the tragic train collision in Tempi, and the Commission’s desire to help Greek authorities in the official investigation into the causes of the accident. They also underlined they would help Greece to investigate the accident and mainly to formulate a railways framework that will be safer, more rational and more attractive to citizens.
Briefing Greek correspondents in Brussels, Gerapetritis noted that a basic position shared by both Greece and the European Commission is “our desire to shift towards a better, more expanded, more popular railway.” Furthermore, Greece will receive technical assistance from the Commission in developing the railways’ capabilities and structural organization.
Furthermore, Gerapetritis mentioned that Greek authorities will be in continuous cooperation with the Commission to monitor the electronic upgrade of European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) projects, which includes the signaling and remote control systems. The contracts must be completed by the end of September 2023 on the Athens-Thessaloniki main axis, emphasized the minister, who expressed the hope that the automatic braking systems (European Train Control System – ETCS) will also be completed by then.
Additionally, Greece will collaborate with the European Commission concerning the staffing of its railways with specialized workers, and enrich Greece’s recently created air and rail accident investigation authority with specialists.
Greece has already requested that the Commission proposes experts that could help in an independent investigation.
Finally, Gerapetritis mentioned that Greece will officially request that both the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) and the European Commission become actively involved in the investigation regarding the causes of the accident.
European Commision technical experts are expected to visit Athens next week, added the Greek minister.
In a tweet following the meeting with Dendias, Commissioner Ferreira said, “Good discussion with Greek Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis on overhaul of the rail system following the tragic accident in February. I welcome the open spirit of cooperation & offer our EU technical assistance on all aspects of the reset: safety, reliability & competitiveness.”