The report for the deadly rail accident at Tempi on February 28 is a factual report, not a cover-up report, State Minister responsible for infrastructure and transport issues Giorgos Gerapetritis said on Thursday.
Commenting to journalists on the report, Gerapetritis said that the committee prepared the report in 43 days since the accident, a record time for a very complex and labor-intensive project. “Despite what has been said for self-serving political reasons – that the commitee is manipulated and subjective – this, as you will see, is a report of factual data, and under no circumstances a report of a cover-up,” the minister said.
The 228-page fact-finding report released to the public by an Experts’ Committee on Thursday found that the deadly rail accident at Tempi between a passenger and a freight train was the result of a multitude of factors related to the functioning, personnel and technological equipment, including on an administrative level, of the railroads .
The report said that both organisations and individuals were to blame for the accident that claimed 57 lives, among them Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) and its subsidiary ERGOSE, the Regulatory Authority for Transport and Hellenic Train, as well as the station master and the train drivers on that fateful night, who appear not to have followed the rules.
It also pointed out the need for an immediate modernisation of the railway and radical changes to the training of the staff.
The Committee noted that report’s job was to review and present the evidence, not to attribute or apportion liability and blame, which was the Justice’s job according to the Constitution and the laws, a comment reiterated by Gerapetritis as well during the press conference.
The report included proposals for implementation immediately, as well as medium- and long-term suggestions. “A large part of these proposals has already been implemented by the ministry or is at the stage of implementation,” Gerapetritis said.
He added that the railroad network has returned to operation under strict security rules, and the response of passengers has been very good, with capacity reaching 100%, “which proves the trust that is gradually being reestablished.”
The hiring of 140 new staff and the return to work of 160 guards at crossings, whose contracts had ended, are among the immediate measures he mentioned. He added that the railroad tunnels have been inspected and lighting and fire protection improved, while the Greek police are supervising key junctions to prevent theft of track materials. The contracts related to the installation of signalling and remote control systems are also being processed on fast track and expected to be finalized by the end of September, he added.
Gerapetritis also noted that Greece is in contact with the European Commission and the European Railway Organization for an evaluation on the organizational model of Greek railroads, with the French government and the French railroads organization SNCF for technical know-how, and with the Italian transport minister (Hellenic Train is a subsidiary of Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane SpA, Italy’s national state-owned railway holding company).