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Public transport in Greece collapses too

25 November 2015 / 15:11:31  GRReporter
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The public transport and the electric train in Athens are facing true collapse, since because of financial problems, an increasing number of city buses are out of service and cannot be repaired due to a lack of spare parts. Simultaneously, the oldest locomotives and wagons of the electric railways, which are already over 35 years old, must be replaced as well.

For 6 years following the implementation of restructuring programmes in the Greek capital city, buses have performed about 5,000 runs less a day. As a result, passengers are spending more than 25 minutes waiting at bus stops. In addition, of all the 1,703 buses that were running 6 years ago, only 1,127 buses are running today but this number should be reduced by the 10% of buses that stay in the repair shops every day due to technical problems.

Furthermore, delays are reported in railway vehicles, as the interval between two electric trains, which did not exceed three minutes in 2010, is now as long as six minutes. The same is observed in the underground too.

Data

Transport workers provided the data yesterday, also informing that the public transport in Athens and the road transport agency do not yet have leaderships and that trade union representatives have not yet met with Minister of Transport Christos Spirtzis. Transport workers noted this yesterday during a press conference on occasion of the creation of a joint strike front of ports, railway and public transport. According to transportation officials, the situation in the transport sector is bleak, as nearly 200 out of the 2,016 buses have to be replaced because they will not be able to run in the centre of Athens due to incompliance with environmental requirements, "The framework programme 2014-2020 does not provide for the purchase of new buses and it is clear what will follow. Buses will continue to run and the country will be forced to pay huge fines to the European Union," said Leonidas Skoulos, chairman of the union of the Athens public transport workers.

As for the increase in the ticket price from 1.20 euro to 1.40 euro, he stressed that there is another solution, "To take VAT from the payment of those 187 million euro owed by ministries and to fund the trips of the unemployed through the subsidy provided for in the framework programme for this purpose, the prerequisite, however, being to count and control those unemployed who will be entitled to it."

In addition to all these problems, there is a serious lack of staff. Chairman of the Hellenic Federation of Railway Workers Panayiotis Paraskevopoulos complains, "Only 1,470 people of the 3,740 necessary staff envisaged in the national railway company (OSE) are currently being employed and the average age of workers is 55 years. In particular, only 284 people are working as engine drivers instead of the planned 450. As a result, they are working 28 days per month, which is costing more in remuneration than if new people are appointed. In this way, 50% of the existing rolling stock is unused."

Public transport (buses and trams) is lacking more than 1,500 engine drivers, owing 10,000 rest days. At the same time, 680 people in eight repair shops are engaged in vehicle maintenance since the announced appointment of a new 330 drivers and 120 technicians has not happened.

The staffing needs of the newest railway transport company Stasi are set at 600 people, said Leftheris Renieris, a representative of the workers.

Strike and campaign in December  

Public transport workers have already decided to start protest actions with a 24-hour strike in the first half of December, in response to the privatisation plans, against the changes in the social insurance system and the anticipated increase in ticket prices. At the same time, they are preparing an information campaign for the public in connection with the consequences of privatisation. They are planning a protest demonstration outside the Asset Development Fund for 15 December, which is the deadline for submission of binding bids for the privatisation of the  port of Piraeus.

Tags: Public transportCollapseTrade unionsStrikes
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