NEWS

After violence, more train security

The Athens-Piraeus Electric Railway (ISAP) is taking steps to prevent further violence on its Piraeus-Kifissia route, following the most serious incident in recent memory when about 50 fans of Olympiakos soccer club attacked a commuter train with gasoline bombs, sticks and stones as it was passing through Faliron Station on Saturday. The ministries of transport and public order are now planning to introduce, within two months, special armed guards at stations, more unarmed security personnel (from the current 33 to 80) and surveillance cameras. Transport Minister Christos Verelis said authorities were considering closing stations when they expected violence. On Saturday, about 50 masked and well-organized fans of Olympiakos attacked a train bound for Piraeus as it was carrying some 250 fans of AEK Athens on their way to board a ferry for a match on Crete. The fans at the station attacked the train with molotov cocktails and stones, setting fire to some carriages. The driver decided not to stop at the station, but terrified passengers pulled the emergency brake and the train stopped half in and half way out of the station. Ten passengers were slightly injured and six carriages were seriously damaged, at an estimated cost of about 100 million drachmas. ISAP Managing Director Gerasimos Dragonas said yesterday that since July 1998, Olympiakos fans had caused damage to trains and stations on 33 occasions, followed by Panathinaikos fans with 19 and AEK with 15, at an annual cost of about 100 million drachmas. Greece, he said, has strong bonds with Great Britain in culture, in education, in the political sphere, and there is also important cooperation between Greece and Britain in the banking sector.