Despite Greek railway workers warning the government for years about the increased possibility of a train accident, they were ignored by ministers who denounced their cautions as “groundless”. In fact, some ministers even replied with irony, as newly uploaded videos published on social media show.
The Greek New Democracy government (EPP) has been in turmoil since the train tragedy, which cost the lives of at least 57 people, reported Euractiv. Press reports suggest that the conservative government unjustifiably delayed the implementation of an EU-funded project.
These projects were in relation to upgrading the signalling system on Greek trains and remote control.
Analysts suggest that the train tragedy could have been avoided if such a system was in place.
Greek media published letters sent to Greek authorities by railway workers warning about a potential accident because of the trains’ poor infrastructure.
On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of Greeks took to the streets to protest the “crime” as they described that took place.
But new videos published on social media add to the public anger, as they show ministers dismissing the railway workers’ warnings.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned, but a few days before the deadly train crash, he insisted railways were safe.
“It’s a shame that you’re raising safety issues, and I’d like you to retract immediately […] we ensure safety”, Karamanlis replied to a question submitted by the opposition.
Λίγες ημέρες πριν το δυστύχημα.
Υπουργός Μεταφορών #ΝΔ #Καραμανλής:
"Είναι ντροπή & ντρέπομαι που θέτετε θέματα ασφαλείας, να ανακαλέσετε αμέσως, είναι ΝΤΡΟΠΗ. Διασφαλίζουμε την ασφάλεια".#Τεμπη_αγνοουμενοι#Σταθμαρχης #τεμπη_εγκλημα #Τεμπη_Τραγωδίαhttps://t.co/tWMnJlUPhy pic.twitter.com/EN30YIM8W9
— Nikos ⓥ (@ellas_nikos) March 4, 2023
Adonis Georgiadis, minister for development and investment, tried to justify his colleague’s statements during a TV programme debate but made things worse.
“You are the minister of transport. Can you go to the parliament and say, ‘yes, the trains have a safety problem?’ If you say that, no one will get on the trains tomorrow,” he said, triggering the reaction of all opposition parties.
"Είσαι ο υπουργός Μεταφορών, μπορείς να πας στη Βουλή και να πείς ναι έχουν πρόβλημα ασφάλειας τα τρένα; Δεν θα μπεί άνθρωπος μετά"
Αν υπήρχε κανονική δικαιοσύνη στην Ελλάδα και οχι ελεγχόμενοι Ντογιάκηδες, αυτοί οι άνθρωποι θα έπρεπε να βρίσκονταν στον ανακριτή για τη δολοφονία pic.twitter.com/itRMEoKWoK
— Σταυροφόρος (@stavroforos_) March 8, 2023
Despite the minister’s resignation, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis decided to allow Karamanlis to run in the upcoming elections, most likely to take place in May.
Mitsotakis’ decision triggered strong reactions in his party, with many conservative politicians pressured Karamanlis to pull out his candidacy.
Even pro-government media reported that by allowing Karamanlis to run the government “takes a huge political risk”.
Documento journal on Wednesday published another video with Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Michalis Papadopoulos saying in July 2022 that workers’ accusations related to trains’ safety were “micropolitics”.
“I won’t let you do micropolitics, […] In the last three years, with rapid steps and despite the delays, we are trying to create what our country is entitled to in the railway. We plan and implement”, Papadopoulos was assuring the Greek parliament.
The Greek government has so far been leading all polls ahead of the next elections, but the train tragedy is expected to have a severe political impact.
Opposition media report that the non-published first surveys after the train tragedy has caused Mitsotakis headaches.
READ MORE: Train collision: New videos of the first moments of the tragedy - "One train has crashed into another."