Railway staff query train safety

As two intercity trains derailed over the weekend, thankfully resulting in just one minor injury, Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) staff alleged that many trains currently operating in Greece are not safe, chiefly due to inadequate maintenance. The derailment on Saturday of a train in Corinth, which had been en route to the southern city from Athens with 48 passengers on board, slightly injured one woman. It was unclear what caused the incident. The derailment in Xanthi yesterday evening of a second train, which had been en route from Dikaia to Athens, did not result in any injuries. The incident was reportedly caused after the wheels came unstuck on one of the train’s wagons. OSE staff told Sunday’s Kathimerini the risk of such accidents will continue to endanger the safety of commuters and train staff until stricter measures are implemented. Railway workers claim that current maintenance inspections cover just 50 percent of the needs of OSE’s trains and infrastructure. They also complain of understaffing, inadequate safety training for staff and a lack of spare parts and equipment. Trade unionists have even referred to an «abandonment» of the country’s train fleet by OSE’s management, which is reportedly planning to spend some 1.1 billion euros on new trains and equipment. OSE staff claim that a large number of trains currently in operation have exceeded the safe limit of kilometers clocked without undergoing general servicing. Around half the fleet of Diesel Atrans-type trains being used on the Athens-Thessaloniki railway route have allegedly surpassed the safe limit of 1.2 million kilometers, with many believed to have clocked 1.7 million kilometers, without undergoing any maintenance service. Employees also claim that staff transfers within OSE have created 300 vacancies in the technical maintenance department which are unlikely to be filled. But even the staff who are currently in maintenance posts – around 1,500 – do not attend the training seminars that they are obliged to under international regulations, employees charge.

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