Several thousand people took part in the protest over the train accident in Greece
Thousands of people have protested safety deficiencies in Greece’s rail network nearly two weeks after dozens were killed in the country’s worst train crash.
Athens, Greece — Thousands of people protested on Sunday against safety deficiencies in Greece’s rail network, nearly two weeks after dozens were killed in the country’s worst train crash.
Demonstrators also demanded punishment for the head-on collision between a passenger train and a freight train that killed 57 people on February 28. Police said more than 8,000 people gathered outside the Parliament in Athens on Sunday to protest.
The protesters later marched to the offices of the privatized train operator Hellenic Train. Owned by the Italian Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane since 2017, the company is not responsible for the maintenance of the railway network. State-owned Hellenic Railways is responsible for maintenance.
Authorities shut down four metro stations on two lines running through central Athens due to the protest.
The rally was organized by civil servants, a Communist Party trade union and university students.
In Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, around 5,000 people demonstrated, listening to speeches and shouting slogans such as “we will be the voice of all the dead”.
Sunday’s rallies, which were uneventful, were not as well attended as earlier in the week, when more than 30,000 people showed up in Athens and more than 20,000 in Thessaloniki. According to the police, four people were detained in Athens.
A memorial service was held for the 12 students of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece’s largest university, who died in the train accident.
An inexperienced station master accused of putting the trains on the same track faces manslaughter and other criminal charges, and the country’s transport minister and top railway officials resigned the day after the accident.
The revelation of serious safety deficiencies on Greece’s busiest railway line has put the centre-right government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the defensive. He promised that the government would fully cooperate with the judicial inquiry into the accident.
Elections are due later this spring, and opinion polls released last week showed the ruling conservatives’ lead over the left-wing opposition had nearly halved compared to pre-crash polls.
Srdjan Nedeljkovic in Athens and Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki contributed to this report.