The train tragedy in Tempi opened with great delay the agenda of the transport safety. Tunnels are without fire safety equipment, as media reports show.
A plethora of several sectors denouncements pop up every day since the train collision on February 28 where 57 people were killed and for the first time since the Mitsotakis government came to power in 2019, mainstream media are seriously reporting about the chaotic conditions or display the unions’ announcements.
Even though they do not point out at responsibilities of several governments, ministers, the administrations in charge or construction companies, as well as at the institutional deficits, lack of accountability and absence of maintenance.
Tunnels fire safety
Fire Service officials and employees of the Greek Railways Organization (OSE) have come up with worrying findings regarding fire safety in tunnels on the country’s railway network,
State of the railway network: 15 out of 18 railway tunnels are unsuitable an autopsy by the Fire Department presented by SKAI TV showed.
“The Fire Department, together with employees of the OSE, has for a year started autopsies in the tunnels of the railway network that are more than 1000 meters long. By January 2023, the inspection of 15 of the 18 tunnels had been completed.” – Skai TV
These, however, were not unknown, as they had been highlighted through interventions by railway workers and experts.
Shocking are the results of an investigation conducted by MEGA TV in the Rapsani tunnel through which the two trains passed and for a few meters they did not collide inside the tunnel:
The camera recorded zero lighting, non-existent fire safety measures and non-existent maintenance.
In a kilometer-long tunnel, there is only one door for passengers to exit in case of emergency and this door is also locked.
The lights, right and left, on the walls of the tunnel are all off as they don’t work, and the fire hydrants that are there, have no pipes to carry the water.
Inspections have revealed the absence of fire safety equipment. Also, in some cases the ventilation systems do not work, while no pathway has been provided for firefighters to access them. In other words, in the event of a fire on a train in a tunnel, it is extremely likely that there will be no fire safety equipment there, firefighting vehicles and forces will be unable to reach the site and the smoke extraction systems will not be operational.
According to reports, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and the minister responsible, George Gerapetritis, are aware of the problem, daily kathimerini reports.
PM Mitsotakis was not aware
Tuesday morning on Skai TV, government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou assured the public that the Prime Minister “was not made aware of the chaos in the railway system.”
As the rage in the society grows, PM Mitsotakis and ruling New Democracy change their initially narrative that Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis (2019-1. March 2023) “assumed responsibility and resigned.”
Oikonomou said that “those in charge ought to know.”
PS based on the last few year Mitsotakis was not aware of the wiretapping scandal, of the Covid-deaths outside ICUs, of the chaos in trains and other infrastructures… We hope he is at least aware that he is Prime Minister since July 2019.
We can expect a lot of blame-shifting as the guilty ones try to dodge the bullets. This is what happens when a government throws money at a department but doesn’t bother to oversee the spending of that money. Scandalous. But I doubt the tragic train debacle at Tempe will change anything much in the longrun.