“We are open and willing to cooperate with the Greek authorities at all levels as requested, in order to provide our support where needed.” This was stated today by deputy representative of the European Commission, Dana Spinanduring the Commission’s briefing to the press, on Brussels.

Dana Spinan reported that the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen he had today in the morning telephone communication with the Greek Prime Minister, during which the willingness of both sides to cooperate on the modernization and improvement of railway safety in Greece was discussed. In this context, a group of experts from the European Commission and the European Railway Agency (ERA) will travel to Athens, within the week, “to provide advice, expertise and support” on the modernization and safety of the railways, “such as deemed necessary by the Greek government”, said the representative of the Commission.

Asked “if the Greek authorities have submitted a request to the European Railway Organization for its support in the investigation of the tragic accident in Tempe”, another representative of the Commission, Stephan De Kersmaeker, replied that this issue was indeed discussed during the telephone conversation between the president of the Commission and the Greek Prime Minister. “We are ready to help the Greek authorities in this and a delegation will be sent to Athens with experts from ERA and the Commission“, he added.

For her part, Dana Spinan replied that the Commission is not in a position to give details of any direct contacts between the Greek authorities and the ERA.

“What I can tell you is that in the telephone conversation between the President of the Commission and the Greek Prime Minister this morning, the idea of ​​going to Athens together with ERA experts was indeed discussed,” he stressed.

Besides, when asked to comment on the Commission’s approval of the postponement of the dates for the start of operation of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) in Greece, Stephan De Kersmaeker answered the following:

“In May 2022, the Commission had accepted a reasoned request from the Greek authorities to postpone the dates for the start of operation of ERTMS, on three lines of the core network, namely for:

The Acharnon-Gefyres line from 2020 to 2022,

The Tithorea-Acharnon line from 2020 to 2023,

The line Domokos-Paleofarsalo-Thessaloniki – Bulgaria/Greece border (Kulata/Promahonas) from 2020 to 2023.

According to the information communicated by the Greek authorities to the Commission services in January 2023, the European Traffic Signaling and Management System (ETCS) – level 1 – is under construction with a projected completion in 2023.

Stefan de Kersmaeker also mentioned that the problems related to the management of the railway projects had been recognized by the Greek authorities, who had agreed to implement a series of reforms in the coming years. He also added that the Greek Recovery and Resilience Plan includes an important milestone for the modernization of the railway network, with the full functionality of ERTMS by the third quarter of 2023.