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19 June, 2024
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Investigations into train crash reveal mistakes and inexperience

'The two other stationmasters were supposed to be at their posts until 11 p.m. but left early.'

Kathimerini Greece Newsroom

The official documents of the case file on the tragic train collision in northern Greece on the night of February 28 highlight in the most damning way the sequence of mistakes and omissions as well as the lack of communication between railway employees and, in one case, lack of experience.

The Railway Regulatory Authority certified and graded the 59-year-old stationmaster as competent on February 1, despite his absence from the railways for 11 years.

On the night of February 28, the inspector assigned him to night duty at Larissa from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., no longer as a trainee but as the sole stationmaster. His two senior colleagues, who were on duty between 2 and 11 p.m. and could have noticed their colleague’s mistake and so avoided the crash had left their posts earlier. And when the two trains ultimately collided, someone or some individuals intervened and used correction fluid to modify the shift times.

“When their shift finishes, there is a handover, and each stationmaster is received by the new one, and during this handover, a receipt is impressed in writing. After the incident, the time of delivery receipt was changed with correction fluid,” said the stationmaster in his testimony to officers of the Larissa Traffic Police.

Meanwhile, a railway inspector and the two other stationmasters were charged on Thursday. All three are being charged with endangering transport safety and multiple counts of negligent homicide and bodily harm. The transport safety charge, a felony, potentially carries a life sentence.

The railway inspector was the one who appointed the inexperienced 59-year-old as stationmaster in the city’s important railway hub, to do the demanding night shift. The inspector has already been remanded.

The two other stationmasters were supposed to be at their posts until 11 p.m. but left early.

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