2 months after the Tempe crime, which claimed the lives of 57 people, we railway workers continue to suffer the effects of the political discredit of rail transport as on Friday April 28 a train conductor was assaulted by a passenger on the Athens commuter train.
At a time when the discussion on the re-exploitation of the medium is daily, we railway workers are daily confronted with dissolution at all levels. A fire in the area of Aghii Theodori and combined with a breakdown of a diesel train in the suburbs of Athens (Neratziotissa) last Friday caused heaps of delays, with no information from the traveling public since telematics has been out of service since years now, when there are no more staff in the stations to inform travelers since 2011 and within the framework of the so-called consolidation policy, the only essential objective of which was the privatization of TRAINOSE (with the thousands of railwaymen who had been trained in the field of crowd management), the management of the stations was entrusted to individuals, limited to ticketing only!
Of course, for the results of this policy, the real people in charge (the managers of TRAINOSE in the period 2010-2011) will never answer, but they reappeared as …. lalistats (and with a lot of inaccuracies and lies in their public interventions) on his causes the crime of Tempe.
Added to all this are the problems of rolling stock, since no new investment has been made in recent years, whereas in the recently voted contract between Hellenic Train – Hellenic State, the amount of investment has been greatly reduced while the purchase of trains … of hydrogen (from GAIA OSE and not from service providers) for … the year 2027. The maintenance facilities have remained in the same -bad-state for 5 years, in the lack of investment, making the work of colleagues on a technical basis difficult.
It is typical that only 15 Desiro electric trains (if any) are available to meet the needs of the suburbs of Athens and Thessaloniki (!!!), alongside the daily or long-term maintenance required by their continuous operation – daily.
So in the suburb of Thessaloniki-Larissa (which remains inexplicably closed to this day) we have recently seen – with significant problems – 32-35 year old diesel trains in a row, while in Athens the use of diesel trains (rail buses) resumed 2 years ago in the suburban lines on the airport line and this in parallel with the implementation – from 2021 – of the unacceptable transfer to Rentis station (and on diesel trains) to reach the largest port in the country, Piraeus!
No manager has ever responded to the need for this transfer, which has been bothering drivers and travelers for two years, in the absence of initiatives from political leaders, such as the OSE “shows” the Hellenic Train and vice versa.
In other words, at a time when passenger traffic was experiencing a significant increase on the Athens and Thessaloniki suburban railway due to the rising cost of energy (Greece has the prices of l most expensive gasoline in Europe but also the lowest wages), not only the railways could not meet them, but they also limited the obligations of companies in investments as much as the maintenance of the infrastructure has been abandoned (to be entrusted by PPP to individuals). It is enough to walk around the stations (even at the central station of Athens which was opened 7 years ago) for someone to notice the abandonment.
Solutions to reverse the situation exist.
These concern the immediate reinforcement of the OSE in personnel for the maintenance of the infrastructure, the return of the operation of the stations to permanent staff – trained staff and the consequent investments in rolling stock – its maintenance facilities.
The annual state subsidy for the execution of sterile lines cannot be used as a lobbying tool – a means of pressure, to place countless executives in critical positions in all companies or to run trains in areas where elected officials have the political responsibility of supervising the Ministry of Transport – Infrastructure and Economy. It must be accompanied by a specific investment program which will focus on serving the traveling public and the Greek economy.
The degradation of the railway, the most user-friendly means of transport, cannot continue. Managers instead of crocodile tears and communication parties, finally let them work on the development of the medium.