53 injured as Athens trains crash head-on

A Proastiakos suburban railway train collided head-on with a freight train in Sepolia, western Athens, yesterday, injuring 53 people as the country’s long list of rail accidents grows. None of the injuries from the crash, which occured at 7.25 a.m., appeared to be serious, according to initial comments from police and officials. The cause of the accident is not known but the Greek Railworkers’ Association said the two trains should not have been on the same stretch of line. «This is the kind of practice that will lead to an accident sooner or later… The two trains should not have been using the same track,» said the association’s leader Andreas Vassilopoulos. One official said that initial evidence indicated poor communication between station masters was responsible for the accident. Both train engineers and two station masters were suspended from duty until the completion of an investigation. Officials said the trains were moving at low speed as they were traveling through a residential area when the collision took place. The suburban rail train was headed to the port of Piraeus, south of Athens, while the freight train was traveling to a petrol refinery, west of Athens, to load up on fuel. Neither of the trains derailed. According to press reports, the driver of the suburban passenger train could see the crash was about to take place minutes before the collision and informed passengers to head to the back of the train to help avoid injuries. Employees accuse the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) of operating without sticking to basic safety rules and claim that communication between drivers and station masters is often made on their personal mobiles phones. OSE has suffered several derailments and other accidents this year. In February, a freight train transporting armored personnel carriers for the army derailed in northern Greece. And in May, another freight train carrying liquid fuel caught fire following a derailment. Deadly collisions between cars and trains on the country’s regional roads are also common.

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