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Tempe: A year later, closure is still far away

A year after the deadly train crash near the Vale of Tempe, which left 57 dead, it is clear that the relatives of the victims and survivors will wait a long time to see justice done.

It’s not that the investigation is lagging, but, with each aspect of the accident examined, more people come under scrutiny and more are likely to be charged.

Just last Tuesday, the prosecutor’s office in the appeals court of Larissa, central Greece, the city closest to the site of the crash, filed charges against the CEO and a senior manager of Hellenic Train, the privatized train operator, raising the number of charged individuals to 32.

That number is likely to rise, and will likely include officials from the railways’ regulatory authority.

So far, it has been established that the stationmaster on duty, who has been remanded pending trial, made the fatal error to route two trains, a northbound passenger one and a southbound cargo one, on the same line.

However, automation system that should have alerted people, including the conductors, of the error were not working, despite the fact that large amounts had been spent to install them; also, despite initial reports, the officer on duty was properly certified to perform his duty and, therefore, assigning him to the shift was not an error, or worse, a dereliction of duty by his boss.

Judicial authorities’ focus is on the non-implemetation of a contract for a signaling upgrade signed in 2014, whose completion kept being delayed.