The Hellenic Railway Regulatory Authority (RAS) has found serious deficiencies in the training of stationmasters of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE).
In a press release on Friday and followed investigation, the RAS said that an inspection of the theoretical and practical training attended by the stationmaster at Larissa, central Greece, who is implicated in the February 28 railway collision which killed 57 people had serious deficiencies.
The 59-year-old has been charged with negligent homicide and jailed pending trial.
However, the said stationmaster is not the only one among stationmasters and locksmiths with inadequate training, but also another few dozens, around 70 people, recently “hired” as free-lancers..
OSE could face a daily 100,000-euro fine unless it takes steps to ensure that the training program for stationmasters and other critical posts is up to the required standards, RAS said.
According to RAS, with the data it has gathered to date, sees strong indications that the theoretical and practical training cycle provided by the Railway Infrastructure Manager (IRO) to OSE personnel who perform critical tasks (station masters – locksmiths) was incomplete and therefore inadequate.
The Railway Regulatory Authority, through a series of audits which will be mentioned below, investigated the training cycle of the Traffic Branch Staff in which the station master involved in the accident of 28 February 2022 participated and found that the correct and comprehensive theoretical and practical training of the trainees was not documented. of the specific apprenticeship cycle, according to the requirements recorded in the Study Guide.
The decision to take emergency measures
Therefore, the Plenary of RAS unanimously decided to take extraordinary temporary measures due to serious indications of violation of specific provisions of the railway legislation, the non-compliance of which involves an immediate, serious and imminent threat to public safety. With the extraordinary temporary measures, the Authority compels, among other things, the Infrastructure Manager OSE S.A. not to employ in positions of critical duties all the candidate station masters who participated in the investigated training cycle. These are the staff who, according to the Human Resources Directorate of the OSE, were hired with a Service Provision card and only two of them had a permanent employment relationship due to reassignment.
The responsibility of staff training
It is underlined that the training of the personnel of the infrastructure manager and the railway companies that perform critical safety tasks is provided by the Hellenic Railways Organization OSE. The Hellenic Railways Organization organizes the training services, in accordance with the current legislation. The Railway Regulatory Authority has no involvement in the training of Station Masters and Locksmiths. Railway undertakings and the infrastructure manager are responsible for the level of training and qualifications of their staff performing essential safety work. RAS approves at the beginning of each year the annual training program drawn up by OSE.
What is RAS doing?
The competence of the Railway Regulatory Authority in relation to the personnel of critical duties concerns the preparation and the carrying out of the examinations of the candidate train drivers. RAS issues the European driving license. Train drivers, after obtaining this license, also receive a certificate stating the rolling stock and infrastructure (railway route) they are allowed to drive. This certificate is issued by the respective railway company and is its active responsibility.
According to the OSE Study guide included in the annual training program for the year 2021, “Basic Training of Traffic Branch Personnel (STATIONMASTERS)” for the above-mentioned personnel (codes 22075 and 22076) performing critical safety tasks, 712 hours of theory were foreseen to be carried out in two apprenticeship cycles and 75 hours of practical training.
According to the testimony of the Traffic Directorate of the OSE, the second cycle of theory took place in parallel with the practical training. Based on the aforementioned program and after the on-site inspections of RAS executives at the OSE offices, the comparative overview, study and analysis of the data and information provided, the following findings emerged:
The correct and comprehensive basic training of Traffic Branch Personnel with codes KP 22075 (Staffmarches Athens) and KP 22076 (Staffmarches Thessaloniki) is not documented, in accordance with the requirements of the relevant study guide for the following reasons:
From the analysis of the data, it cannot be safely concluded that the said candidate station masters completed the prescribed 177-hour theoretical training cycle B, which would be conducted in parallel with the mandatory 75-day practical training after the completion of the 1st cycle training cycle of 535 hours. Given that critical supporting documents and evidence were not provided from which it can be clearly and completely deduced:
Full report in Greek in RAS
Yes, but the Prime Minister didn’t know…….
Perhaps they do it like driving schools? Train 5 people at the same time. Each person gets 10 minutes personal instruction but it counts as 1 hour towards their mandatory minimum?
Wouldn’t it be better if RAS set up its own training scheme and OSE had to pay to have its staff trained through it? RAS have no incentive to cut corners and OSE would lose the opportunity to do so.