Sorin Grindeanu’s catastrophic record at the Ministry of Transport: an endless series of accidents on the railways and highways with fatalities and injuries / State-owned companies, politicized to the maximum / Grindeanu is silent on the subject of accidents, but is vocal on the sensitive subject of the Bystroe Canal
In a year and a half in office at the Ministry of Transport, Sorin Grindeanu (PSD) has a black record for the companies under his command: monthly accidents on the railways with fatalities, the death of a man on the highway due to lack of safety gratings, delays or even delays of major infrastructure projects. All – against the backdrop of the massively politicized strategic institutions under his command.
It is worth noting that Grindeanu receives extremely lenient media treatment from the press, which is paid monthly by the PSD through the state budget funding scheme. Criticism of Grideanu is sporadic on TV and websites owned by media moguls, with rare exceptions. Grideanu, on the other hand, has distinguished himself by taking extremely tough positions against Ukraine on the highly sensitive issue of the deepening of the Bystroe Canal .
On the other hand, Grindeanu has been repeatedly praised by Marcel Ciolacu, the head of the PSD. „Sorin Grindeanu has the best execution of all the transport ministers. Don’t you see that Romania will finally have the Moldova Highway, which all Transport Ministers have promised since the Revolution. A man from the province of Banat ended up building the Moldova Highway. It is very possible that by 2024 we will be able to go as far as Pașcani,” Ciolacu said on March 6 in an interview for RTV.
The Railway Companies (CFRs), run by political pundits
The CFR passengers company is run by Traian Preoteasa, a former director general of CFR Freight, supported by the PNL. Traian Preoteasa graduated from the National Defence and National Security College in 2005, and his name is linked to poor mandates at CFR Passengers, CFR SA and CFR Freight. He has also served on the board of directors of state-owned companies such as Tarom.
Another member of the board of CFR Passengers is Sorin Flutur, a PNL member, who has also held various management positions in state railway companies. Rela-Nicoleta Ștefănescu is also a director of CFR Passengers, although she has no connection with the sector. She is deputy secretary general in the Ministry of Finance, and in the past held various positions in the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Culture or the Ministry of Environment. She is also a graduate of the National Defence College.
CFR SA, also under Grindeanu, has a former policeman close to Sorin Grindeanu at the head of its board of directors. He is Ion Damian, currently deputy secretary general of the Ministry of Transport, and former police chief commissioner in the Timisoara Organized Crime Squad and the Timis Anti-Corruption Department. Subsequently, he worked at Romanian National Revenue Agency (ANAF).
Ionel Sabin Emil Bociu, nicknamed „Grindeanu’s vet”, is also a member of the Board of Directors of CFR SA, according to Club Feroviar. He was the mayor of Jebel commune in Timiș county. He is a veterinarian at Jebel Vet SRL.
Endless series of accidents on the railways
The latest accident on the railways took place on Saturday evening in Galati. A woman driver died and three people were injured after a locomotive crashed at high speed into the train set.
Grindeanu has not made any radical decisions about the management of the state companies involved in the disaster but has announced a supposed check of trains and locomotives in use. However, G4Media revealed that the same Transport Minister allowed in 2022 and 2023 the postponement of general technical overhauls or planned repairs to passenger carriages by up to six months.
The accident in Galati came just two weeks after two trains collided in Teleorman. The accident resulted in 12 injuries and significant material damage, as several cars fell off the freight train. It is worth noting that CFR Călători tried to cover up the accident with an initial press release that downplayed the effects of the accident.
Other accidents under Grindeanu:
18 March 2023: A wagon that was part of a train carrying military equipment derailed in Brasov county. No injuries were reported. Traffic was stopped for hours.
1 November 2022. Nine coal-laden wagons of a CFR freight train derailed at Răcari station, Dolj county. For hours, passengers on trains passing through the area were transported by car between Filiași and Coțofeni.
13 September 2022. A grain train from Ukraine derailed at Deda and two wagons capsized. The train was heading for the port of Constanta. The train of 30 wagons belongs to CFR Freight. Rail traffic was stopped for hours.
27 July 2022. A Regio freight train running between Teiuș and Cluj-Napoca derailed near CFR Cojocna station and train movements in the Gura Motrului – Filiași area were severely affected.
29 June 2022. Five trains were stuck in traffic after the wagons of a private freight derailed between the Sârca and Podu Iloaiei (Iași – Pașcani) railway stations.
19 February 2022. Rail traffic was stopped on the 100 Caracal-Craiova main line after the locomotive of a freight train derailed.
Critical state of the infrastructure
A G4Media investigation of 26 March 2023 shows that a CFR bridge that is in a visible state of disrepair has been supported for months with wooden props. The bridge in the town of Târgu-Ocna in Bacău county is located within the area of the Regional Railway Branch Galați – Section L 5 Târgu-Ocna and is crossed daily by dozens of trains. Despite the evidence, the National Railway Company „CFR” S.A. claims that „there is no bridge in the area of Târgu-Ocna that endangers the safety of trains”.
Fatal accident on the motorway due to lack of protection panels
A 48-year-old man died at the end of January on the first and only completed section of the Sibiu – Pitesti motorway, Sibiu – Boița. He did not die as a result of a pile-up involving six vehicles, which was caused by ice, but because, frightened that a car was coming towards him whose driver could no longer brake, he jumped over the barriers separating the two directions of the motorway. He fell 20 metres into the emptiness because there was no safety grill installed.
Transport minister Sorin Grindeanu announced shortly afterwards that no gratings would be installed between the two lanes, despite criticism from civil society. The minister’s explanation is that the motorways are „reserved exclusively for motor vehicle traffic” and that there are emergency parking lanes that would allow drivers to take refuge.
Former Secretary of State in the Ministry of Transport Horațiu Cosma (USR) considers Minister Sorin Grindeanu’s statements about the reasons why no protective gratings will be installed on the Tălmăcel viaduct on the Sibiu – Boița section as „incredible and retrograde”.
„This is an incredible and retrograde statement. Such gratings have already been installed on the Transylvania Highway where they worked very well, they have the role of avoiding falls of people stopped on the viaduct. The fact that there are no regulations does not prevent them from putting them on the Transylvania Highway”, said Horațiu Cosma.
Grindeanu silent on accidents, but vocal on the sensitive issue of the Bystroe Canal
Sorin Grindeanu has distinguished himself during his mandate by often disappearing from public life during periods marked by serious road or rail accidents.
This was the case in mid-March 2023, after one of the most serious railway accidents in recent times, the collision involving a CFR passenger train with 280 passengers and a private freight train. The accident, which prompted ISU Teleorman to trigger the Red Intervention Plan and resulted in 12 injuries (fortunately minor), is believed to have been caused by the driver of the CFR Călători train failing to observe one of the most important rules of the job, not to exceed the red signal, according to public information from the investigation opened on Monday.
Economedia. ro noted then the stammering of those responsible in the Ministry of Transport and not only of the communicators (the first public information was sent to the press very late, more than 3 hours after the accident and only after journalists’ requests), of the CFR Călători management (the first public explanation was almost 10 hours after the accident) and the silence of the Minister of Transport, Sorin Grindeanu, who did not even want to transmit on Facebook (where he is very active when announcing projects and partnerships) the position of the ministry he heads or of the government in which he is deputy prime minister.
Instead, the transport minister sparked a huge international controversy by accusing Ukraine in February of deepening the Bystroe Canal (linking the Danube to the Black Sea) without Romania’s consent.
At the time, Grindeanu unleashed a wave of antipathy towards Ukraine at a highly tense time, marked by declining Romanian enthusiasm for EU measures to support Ukraine.
Grindeanu has continued his critical stance towards Ukraine to this day, even though there have been studies since 2006 and 2007 that there are sections of the Bystroe Canal where the depth is greater than that claimed by the Transport Minister.
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