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Politics

European Commission to Collaborate with Greece in Improving Railroad Safety

BRUSSELS – On Tuesday, Giorgos Gerapetritis, Minister of State responsible for infrastructure and transport, discussed Greece’s collaboration with the European Commission regarding the Tempi train collision.

Specifically, Gerapetritis met in Brussels with Cohesion & Reforms Commissioner Elisa Ferreira, Transport Commissioner Adina Valean, and Bjoern Seibert, who is the office director of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. They discussed the head-on collision of a passenger and a freight train at Tempi in central Greece, which killed 57 people, including many college students.

The EU officials expressed their condolences for the tragic train collision in Tempi and the Commission’s desire to assist Greek authorities in the official investigation into the accident’s causes. They also emphasized their willingness to help Greece investigate the accident and to formulate a railway framework that is safer, more rational, and more attractive to citizens.

During a briefing for Greek correspondents in Brussels, Gerapetritis noted that both Greece and the European Commission share the basic position of “our desire to shift towards a better, more expanded, and more popular railway.” Furthermore, Greece will receive technical assistance from the Commission in developing the railway’s capabilities and structural organization.

Gerapetritis also mentioned that Greek authorities will maintain continuous cooperation with the Commission to monitor the electronic upgrade of European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) projects, which include signaling and remote control systems. The minister emphasized that contracts must be completed by the end of September 2023 on the Athens-Thessaloniki main axis and expressed hope that the automatic braking systems (European Train Control System – ETCS) will also be completed by then.

Moreover, Greece will collaborate with the European Commission to staff its railways with specialized workers and enrich Greece’s recently created air and rail accident investigation authority with specialists. Greece has already requested that the Commission propose experts to assist in an independent investigation.

Finally, Gerapetritis mentioned that Greece will officially request that both the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) and the European Commission become actively involved in investigating the causes of the accident. European Commission technical experts are expected to visit Athens next week, added the Greek minister.

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