Police’s first questions to the 59-year-old station master came hours after the trains collided in Tempe, warning messages months before the tragedy.
Police officials’ first questions to the 59-year-old station master are shedding light on the hours after the trains collided at Tempi.
The following questions were asked at 19:20 on Wednesday, March 1, just before the first 24 hours had passed since the tragedy on the trains in Tempe and the station master had already been arrested, as revealed by the Patris newspaper.
At that time, the death toll stood at 37 and the injured at 127. The station master told the driver of the Intercity 62 that he had not, and had not, given the writing sample for the continuing double up line. Even tell her it’s running to her.
“The driver said OK to my signal“, as Patrice newspaper revealed, the station master would add. At the same time, about the key that he never returned to change the lines, he explained “He did not consider that he turned the key from rise to fall because of his own mishandling».
Also, in this first statement of his he tries to remember the details of that night, but he doesn’t succeed everywhere, he mentions to the police.
The police’s first questions to the 59-year-old station master were:
Question: Before train number 62 left Larissa station with the final destination of Thessaloniki, did you tell the driver of the train how it would operate on a double uphill track?
Head of Station: No.
Question: In this case, what do you think caused the accident?
Head of Station: I am psychologically devastated by the accident and would like to recall more details beyond what I have mentioned above.
Question: What exactly contributed to the accident?
Head of Station: I can’t say anything right now, I’m so bad.
Question: Did your non-written and verbal communication to the driver of train number 62 contribute to the accident?
Head of Station: Maybe yes. However, if the train driver had reported that he had entered the descending track, I would have informed him that he was on the wrong track.
Question: Did the driver notice this?
Head of Station: Yes, of course since the driver was riding in front of the train, he had visibility and could have realized that the key was not on the main and entering the downline from a diagonal.
“Why didn’t I give Model 1001, it’s my negligence”
Question: Why not give a written notice to the driver of No. 1001 that Train No. 62 will be double tracked?
Head of Station: As there were other trains at the station, I had to arrange how they would depart and which track they would enter.
Question: Which keys are related to the traffic of train number 62, on the route it runs on?
Head of Station: Keys 117 and 118 are for the main ascendant. 118 key (dual) should be queued for traffic in ascending and descending order.
Question: What is the direction of rotation of these keys, how do they work and which of them creates a bypass along the line of descent?
Head of Station: 118 is the key to interchange the anode with the cathode.
Question: Describe to us how you handle these keys, especially key 118, when train number 62 departs from Larissa railway station?
Head of Station: When the 2597F key passed 118, it went from the landing to the riser and on the third line from the 117 riser I brought the key back to the main and commanded it to come to the 62 main riser line with the 117 and 118 keys. Since then, I don’t remember how and what happened, but I was content to think that the keys were electronically locked, indicated by the light indicators of the panel lights.
“I trusted the clues”
At this point, officers stick their questions more to the technical side of both the license plate and the keys:
Question: After the operation you mentioned, did you check that the main line electric switches number 117 and 118 are actually returned to the main line?
Head of Station: Trusting the symptoms, I don’t think this is bad.
Question: What are the confirmation keys you mentioned above and what is their function?
Head of Station: There are three confirmation keys. One, we turn from the main side to a side, the second the lights on the panel should flash and stay on permanently, an indication that he has locked the key normally, and the third security key is to instruct the station master locksmith. To activate the key manually.
Question: Does one of the confirmation keys you mentioned above confirm the rotation of the other keys?
Head of Station: At the top of the panel there is a confirmation key and an indicator or fault lamp that confirms the turn of the key.
Question: Did you notice the key reversal confirmation indicators?
Head of Station: I definitely noticed confirmation key (1) and confirmation key (2). For this reason I do not have to resort to the confirmation key (3), which means sending the locksmith to the point.
Question: Think you know enough about the periodic table?
Head of Station: As efficient as I can get during my training.
Question: So how did you decide to do normal duty instead of being a fellow assistant?
Head of Station: Management can answer this question.
Question: How long did you train at a traffic control panel?
Head of Station: A week after the theory is over, a week after the exams are over and practice is over and normally a day before the shift starts.
Question: Any idiosyncrasies of the Transport Board, are you aware of them yourself or from other ex-station masters, and if so, what are they?
Head of Station: The only thing I know from the old ones is that some keys don’t work on the first try, but on the second or third try, while on some keys the grippers (key 101) are fixed. Manually operated only. Also, key 116 returned from Monday to Tuesday, ie 27 to 28-02-2023, with fourth attempt, while for confirmation and before clicking, I instructed the locksmith to go to the point to check it. On the way he bolt-locked and informed me to go back to the locksmith. Later it was reported that there was no problem with the train 1571 key from Volos to Larissa.
Question: Is there any damage to the key board?
Head of Station: Yesterday the 115 and 116 keys gave some malfunction and as a result the train driver of suburban 2597 informed me that the keys were reversed.
Question: How would other station masters, if old, deal with any peculiarities or faults of the group and in particular by what manipulations are necessary to remove them?
Head of Station: If the station master finds a light on a key or anywhere else, he informs the locksmith to go and check and if they fail to correct the fault, they inform the appropriate technician who has carried out the maintenance work.
Question: Did anything bother you before taking charge and while running your service, in general?
Head of Station: No.
Question: Are you sick?
Head of Station: No.
Question: What were your activities during the day and did you rest?
Head of Station: In the morning I went to Larissa Inspection to drop off some documents for secondary income for February, then took the car to the workshop and left it repaired, went home, in the afternoon I went and picked up the car from the workshop. I got ready and returned home.
Question: did you sleep
Head of Station: Yes, three in the afternoon and five in the morning.
Warnings about disabled traffic lights months before the tragedy
New facts continue to come to light to shed light on all aspects of the tragedy in Tempe.
Testimony from OSE staff, as well as information from declassified documents, show ongoing concern about dysfunctional systems. In fact, the signals on the tracks worried train drivers who had reported months earlier.
In particular, according to ERT, since October, train drivers have been warning about these safety gaps, and in fact a certain station master drew two telegrams in October and November. Specific statements and solutions to existing problems were sought.
Specifically, the first telegram was dated October 31, 2022 and contained the following text:
«All the traffic lights (entrance and exit) at the new sources have been completely switched off, resulting in severe opposition from the train drivers, we inform you.
And he continued in the said telegram No. 26: “As all trains pass through the tracks of the New Resource station, we request the train drivers to flash their immediate lights (red light) to give them timely warning of the approach of the station.».
It was followed by the same telegram dated 16th November, No. 90, in which the station master who drew it said the same things, and again informed those in charge that the photographic signals were not working.
The new evidence comes in a tragic way confirming safety gaps on the railway line and the problems faced by train drivers, which were known months before the tragic accident.
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