ATHENS: Greek train drivers on Tuesday called for safety assurances as officials prepared to restart the country's rail network after last month's collision that killed 57 people.

In a statement to services operator Hellenic Train, the drivers' union PEPE called for better monitoring of rail crossings, improved tunnel lighting, bridge inspection data and the removal of debris and overgrown vegetation from tracks.

“We believe that unless these problems are solved, services cannot resume in these areas,“ the union said.

The government has said rail services that were suspended after the February 28 tragedy will be gradually restored from Wednesday until mid-April.

The train disaster has sparked weeks of angry and occasionally violent protests, and has piled major pressure on the conservative government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ahead of elections expected in May.

Most of the victims were university students returning from a long holiday weekend.

Greece's transport minister resigned after the disaster, and the stationmaster on duty during the accident and three other railway officials have been charged and face possible life sentences.

But railway unions had long been warning about problems, claiming the network was underfunded, understaffed and accident-prone after a decade of spending cuts.

The drivers’ union on Tuesday stressed it had repeatedly warned officials about safety shortcomings on the network, but the warnings were “downplayed or not taken seriously.” - AFP