Greek gov't announces railway safety measures after deadly train accident

Firefighters carry out rescue operation at the site of a collision of two trains at Tempi municipality, Greece, March 1, 2023. (Photo by Leonidas Tzekas/Xinhua)

Greek government announced a set of measures aimed to improve the safety of railway system on Wednesday, in the wake of the train collision last week in central Greece that resulted in 57 deaths.

Also on Wednesday, thousands of protesters hit the streets of Athens and other cities across the country as labor unions called a 24-hour nationwide strike over the tragedy.

"Suffering must be followed by catharsis," Giorgos Gerapetritis, Greek state minister responsible for infrastructure and transport, told a press briefing. He also apologized for the worst railway tragedy in Greece, pledging swift steps to complete all necessary works to upgrade the system and prevent such accidents in the future.

Gerapetritis announced an increase in the state budget to address understaffing and shortage of railway equipment. He said the government would step up procedures to fill in the gaps in the signaling network and upgrade the safety system.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has also publicly acknowledged the state's chronic mistakes for the state of the railways system.

This photo taken on March 1, 2023 shows the site of a collision of two trains at Tempi municipality, Greece. (Photo by Leonidas Tzekas/Xinhua)

According to police estimates, approximately 30,000 people took to the streets in central Athens on Wednesday, calling for "justice" and "modern and safe public transport." Similar protests were held in several other cities, including Thessaloniki in northern Greece.

They were organized by the umbrella union of civil servants ADEDY, labor unions of mass transportation, and students' and teachers' associations among others. Many of the crash victims were university students returning to class after short holidays.

"Me and my friends would take this train route very often. If it was someone I knew (among the victims), if it were me, obviously I would want someone to come here and shout for me," Lefteris, a student of physiotherapy told Xinhua during a protest in Thessaloniki.

"As a mother, what happened hurt me a lot. I feel huge disappointment, tremendous rage," said Fotini, another protester.