Greek PM vows to fix chronic rail deficiencies as public anger grows | CNN



Greece’s prime minister has pledged to improve the safety standards of the country’s rail system after the deadliest train accident ever sparked mass protests.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis again apologized for last month’s incident, in which a passenger train carrying mostly university students returning from a three-day holiday collided with a freight train near the town of Larissa, killing 57 people and injuring dozens.

“I repeat my public apologies on behalf of all those who have ruled the country for many years, but especially personally,” Mitsotakis said.

“That is why I take my responsibility. And we can’t, we don’t want to, we can’t hide behind a series of human errors,” he added.

A Greek riot police walks past an exploded Molotov during a demonstration.

The day after the deadly collision, Mitsotakis blamed “tragic human error”, sparking demonstrations against chronic faults in the railway system and demanding justice for the victims. In a different tone, he emphasized on Sunday that Greece “cannot, will not and must not hide behind human error”.

During his speech on Thursday, the prime minister promised “absolute transparency” and said that if the installation of digital monitoring systems had been completed, “this incident would have been practically impossible”.

The fact that this system “will be operational in a few months is no excuse,” he added. “It adds to my personal pain because we couldn’t install it before this tragic incident happened.”

Tens of thousands of people took part in protests organized by trade unions and student groups in major Greek cities on Wednesday, calling for government accountability and better safety standards.

“This crime must not be covered up,” they chanted, holding placards with the names of the dead.

Further strikes are planned in Greece to protest the deadly collision.

European Commission experts have met with the Greek government to discuss “the complete reorganization” of Greece’s railways.

Mitsotakis said at the cabinet meeting that he has asked the committee for technical assistance and additional funding.

The Greek government initially planned to hold elections in early April, but is now widely expected to postpone them until after Easter. The term ends in July.

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