The Greek government announced a set of measures aimed to improve the safety of the railway system on Wednesday, in the wake of the train collision last week in central Greece that resulted in 57 deaths.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced an increase in the state budget to address understaffing and shortage of railway equipment. He said the government would step up procedures to fill in the gaps in the signalling network and upgrade the safety system.
Also on Wednesday, thousands of protesters hit the streets of Athens and other cities nationwide as labour unions called a 24-hour nationwide strike over the tragedy.
"Suffering must be followed by catharsis," Giorgos Gerapetritis, state minister responsible for infrastructure and transport, told a press briefing. He also apologized for the worst railway tragedy in Greece, pledging swift steps to complete all necessary works to upgrade the system and prevent such accidents.
Speaking at a press conference, he also conceded that if safety systems had been fully automated, "the accident would not have happened".
Political life will resume Thursday with a cabinet meeting after a period of national mourning, but the premier seems in no rush to confront the issue of the looming polls.
According to police estimates, approximately 30,000 people took to the streets in central Athens, calling for "justice" and "modern and safe public transport." Similar protests were held in several other cities, including Thessaloniki in northern Greece.
Many protesters waved signs reading "Call me when you get there", a rallying cry for demonstrators reportedly originating from a phone call between a mother and her son shortly before he died in the crash.
They were organized by the umbrella union of civil servants ADEDY, labour unions of mass transportation, and students' and teachers' associations. Many crash victims were university students returning to class after short holidays.