A partial restart of rail services in Greece is scheduled for Wednesday, more than three weeks after the worst train accident in the country’s history.

The first train to run after the Feb. 28 train collision in north-central Greece will cover a very short route from the main station in Athens to the small town of Inoi, due north of the Greek capital. The locomotive and carriages will depart at 4:45 a.m. (02.45 GMT) and carry the new CEO of the state-run Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE), Panagiotis Terzakis.

OSE has been in the “eye of the storm” after the train collision due to charges of omissions, poor management, lack of professionalism, inferior staff training, and above all, human error involving a junior station master (traffic director) who, by all accounts, shifted one passenger train into the path of an ongoing freight train just south of the entrance of the Tempi Valley Gorge. The current government and previous governments have also come under sharp criticism by the media, in social media and in the wider public opinion for the state of the paltry – by European standards -rail network in Greece.

At the same time, many routes will remain suspended, pending implementation of new or stepped up security measures and beefed up staffing, with several measures demanded by rail-related unions in order to allow members to return to their posts.
One union, representing train conductors, has called for a one-week delay in the restart of rail services.

Two stations masters will work on shifts

Among other, trains will run at different hours during nightfall, even if they’re running on opposite tracks. Two stations masters will work on shifts where only one was previously scheduled, along with two train conductors serving per train. Carriage staff will also be increased, and speeds on portions of tracks without signaling will be lowered.
In a related development, speaking from Brussels on Tuesday, Minister of State Giorgos Gerapetritis, who “inherited” the rail transport and infrastructure portfolio after the resignation of the relevant transport minister after the Tempi tragedy, said Athens will request cooperation with the EU Commission for the railways sector.

While at the Commission’s seat, the Greek minister met with EU Commission for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira, EU Commissioner for Transports Adina Ioana Vălean and the head of cabinet for Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Bjoern Seibert.

According to reports, Commission leaders pledged to assist Athens in investigating the causes of the rail disaster – which claimed the life of 58 people – but even more importantly, Brussels will help in formulating a new framework of operation for Greece’s antiquated railways network and infrastructure.

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