The Hellenic Railways Organization has always been and remains a dissolved company. A company beholden to the moods of its unionists, its managements, the contractors who undertake its infrastructure investments, the “illegal recyclers” who steal the materials, even the train tracks, opposing business interests and governments. With huge – and never enough – spending on multi-billion euro investments falling into a bucket and disappearing, trains in Greece continue to run in conditions of the last century.
Of course the tragic accident of February 28, 2023 was also the result of human error, but this error would not have had this tragic result if the technology that regulates the movement of trains and provides safety on the routes was installed.
And just the dialogues recorded between the stationmaster and the train driver prove how easy this human error was to happen. These people were talking on the phone! All appointments are made by phone! “Am I coming in?”, “You’re coming in.” And he went in the opposite direction. Neither one knew where he was telling him to get in, nor where he was getting in, and of course neither of them knew that there was another train on the line. Is it the fault of the Larisa station master who gave the order? Of course it’s his fault. But who can rule out human error? Who can condemn any man who made a mistake, even if that mistake was tragic and fatal and led to the death of so many people? Human error is always a possibility in any job. That is why there are control systems, double checks, security procedures, the adoption of technology.
In the case of the colliding trains, none of this worked and we ended up with tragedy. The prosecutor who will look for the culprit will assign responsibilities where he manages to locate them, in the absolute chaos that characterizes the Greek railways.
Hundreds of articles were written on the occasion of this accident revealing that train accidents are a permanent condition. Hundreds of derailments, collisions with and without casualties, route delays, breakdowns. This is the everyday life of the Greek railways and the Larissa station master is certainly not the only one to blame for this situation.
15 years ago a commercial train derailed in Bralos. When it derailed, 35 loaded wagons were counted. On paper he had 24. 11 were smuggled. In the 90s, another commercial train had derailed somewhere in Larissa. He had 13 wagons, but on paper he only had one. 12 were clandestine. And yet, dozens of stationmasters all along the route had noted on their papers that at such and such a time the numbered train with such and such a carriage passed through their station.
13 wagons were passing in front of them and they noticed that only one was passing. Why? Because the smuggling ring, of which all of them were of course partners, was making millions by connecting undeclared wagons to the train.
Now we will see the big battle between all those responsible who will try to blame each other. And we will read many opinions, many reports, many revelations about the state of an organization that has been broken for many decades anyway.
And the responsibility belongs to everyone, to all the trade unionists, to all the administrations, to all the governments of all the last decades. The same can happen – and probably does – in a number of other businesses and services of the public sector in Greece.
What will happen now; Will the trains stop? Certainly not. They will continue to move along the same lines, with the same shortcomings, hoping that no more human error will occur. Which unfortunately cannot be ruled out at all. And possibly some corrections will begin, “decisive political interventions” will of course be made, emergency measures will be announced and investments in systems will be accelerated. But until all this is implemented, the trains will continue to run without safety systems and in the hope that we will not have another accident.
Who is to blame? As always, the culprit is himself. The public administration, which prevents the modernization of the country. And he prevents him because he has an interest in preventing him. It wants to maintain its power, the money it collects – legal and illegal -, the control of the “store”, i.e. the country.
The fact that Greece as a country goes through the adventures and tragedies it goes through every now and then is always due to the same reason. In the monstrous Greek state, which operates solely on the basis of the petty interests of all those involved in its administration. And which he managed even when we went bankrupt and the EU came and the IMF to bail out Greece, almost nothing will change. With “equivalent measures” and lies, placing a huge burden on taxpayers, the public administration prevented reforms and managed to prevent the consolidation of the Greek state and maintain its power.