Progressive groups across Greece, including workers’ and student and youth groups, have expressed outrage at the death of around 47 people in a collision between a passenger train and a freight carrier train on the Athens-Thessaloniki Main line in Tempi, near Larissa, on the night of February 28. Close to 70 people were injured in the crash and many passengers are reportedly still missing.
On March 1 and 2, people organized demonstrations outside the Athens offices of the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) and the private train operator Hellenic Train SA. Protests were also organized in the cities of Thessaloniki and Patras. The demonstrators protested the austerity-ridden, dysfunctional system running the country’s railways, which has only worsened with negligence. They also demanded a thorough investigation into the tragedy, terming it a “predetermined crime with causes and culprits.”
On March 1, various groups, including the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), All Workers’ Militant Front (PAME), and other youth and students groups organized vigils in Greek cities to pay respects to the victims of the tragedy and called on the people to join blood donation drives in hospitals from March 1 to March 3 for those injured.
According to reports, as part of a preliminary investigation, the Larissa station master has been arrested for criminal negligence in duty. The two trains were reportedly speeding in opposite directions on the same track due to malfunctions in the track changing system.
Following the accident, highlighting the criminal negligence of the rail authorities, KKE re-released a note of warning issued by PAME-affiliated Democratic Unionist Trade Union Movement of Railways (ICCS) on February 7 regarding shortages of staff, security, and resources at critical railway services and infrastructure that may lead to fatal accidents. In its statement on March 2, KKE said that “there have long been signs that a very dangerous situation has developed in rail transport, both for passengers and for workers, and there were numerous warnings from workers that it was only a matter of time before a more serious accident occurred, which were apparently ignored by the government and the company.”
“Therefore, this is not a ‘bad time,’ but a predetermined crime with causes and culprits,” added the KKE.