Greek Train Wreck



The site of a crash, where two trains collided, is seen near the city of Larissa, Greece, March 1, 2023. REUTERS/Thanos Floulis

A stationmaster was charged with negligent homicide and jailed pending trial for allegedly causing one of the deadliest train crashes in Greece. An audio was released by authorities in which a train driver was told to ignore a red light.

The train that was carrying more than 350 passengers came in collision with a freight train, Leaving 57 people dead in Tempi, Greece, stated authorities. While the country’s transport minister resigned, rail workers went on strike stating that the government has “disrespect’ in the sector.

Prime Minister Kyroakos Mitsota responded by apologizing if Greece’s government had any influence in the catastrophe. A judge and a prosecutor both agreed that the railway employee should be charged with multiple counts of homicide as well as endangering transportation safety.

According to a public broadcaster, 48 people were brought to the hospital, and six of them are in critical condition because of head wounds and/or serious burns.

The stationmaster that was accused allegedly directed both of the trains to collide. He was taken to testify about what had occurred for 7 ½ hours and then was charged and arrested. Stephanos Pantzartzidis, the stationmaster’s lawyer, stated, “My client testified truthfully, without fearing if doing so would incriminate him. The decision [to arrest him] was expected, given the importance of the case.”

However, the stationmaster’s lawyer also told the judges to investigate if other stationmasters were working around that area as well. “For 20 minutes, he was in charge of [the train] safety in all central Greece,” stated Pantzartidis.

There have also been reports by the Greek media that around the area of the crash, the signaling system was not functioning properly, which could imply that it was a mechanical issue as well. 

Mitsotakis promised that the catastrophe will have a swift investigation, as well as a new safety improvement plan by the new Greek transportation minister. The prime minister also stated that when the new parliament is established, a commission is going to be investigating the mishandling of Greece’s railway system.

There has also been a backlash on how the Prime Minister was initially handling the situation by stating that the collision was a “tragic human error”. Many were accusing Mitrotakis of trying to only blame the stationmaster and not blame the government’s mismanagement of the railways. 

Mitsotakis apologized by stating “I owe everyone, and especially the victims’ relatives, a big apology both personal and on behalf of all who governed the country for many years. In 2023, it is inconceivable that two trains move in different directions on the same track and no one notices. We cannot, we do not want to, and we must not hide behind the human error.”

Although the police and prosecutors did not identify the stationmaster, Hellenic Railways did. In an announcement by the Hellenic Railways, also known as OSE, they stated that they were going to suspend the company’s inspector who appointed the stationmaster, and the stationmaster was also suspended. It has also been reported that the heads of OSE as well as their subsidiary, ERGOSE, have submitted their resignations.