ATHENS: Protests were scheduled for Thursday in cities across Greece as part of a general strike called in response to a rail disaster last month.


Public hospitals in Greece remained open with only emergency personnel, public transportation came to a halt, and state-run schools had to cancel classes because of the strike.

After a head-on train collision on February 28 killed 57 people and injured dozens more in northern Greece, unions have rallied to support railway workers’ associations that have staged rolling walkouts.

The government, which must hold parliamentary elections before the summer, has announced that rail services will resume on March 22 and be fully restored by April 11. This will require additional personnel to monitor safety and mandatory speed reduction rules along sections of the track.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ center-right government has seen its lead in the polls narrow against its main rival, the left-wing Syriza party, and the two sides have been locked in an ideological debate over how to reform Greece’s antiquated rail network.

Mitsotakis has promised to draw more distinct lines between privatized services and the authorities overseeing them, and he has enlisted the help of European Union experts to do so. His critics say that the state-run agencies he has dismantled have been dismantled poorly, putting rail safety at risk.