Israel Railways announces expanded schedule amid unrest

Israel Railways  photo: Lihi Eliyahu

The schedule calls for additional trains and extended operating hours, but Israel Railways may be unable to implement it.

Israel Railways published a new timetable today scheduled to go into effect on March 29. The new schedule adds 126 trains a week. If the company's management does not reach agreement with its workers on the new schedule for locomotive drivers, however, it may prove impossible to implement the new timetable. The workers' committee opposes the new schedule for drivers. Under the new schedule, full service will be restored to Modi'in, Ben Gurion Airport, and the south, while the hours for the high-speed railway line to Jerusalem will be extended.

The new schedule also includes stops at the Modi'in railway stations on the Nahariya-Ben Gurion Airport route. Trains from Beer Sheva will continue to Herzliya, instead of having their final stop at Lod. Trains from Ashkelon will continue to the Tel Aviv Hagana  station instead of terminating at Lod. Israel Railways will operate eight new trains a day, making a daily total of 579 trains.

The high-speed railway between Ben Gurion Airport and Jerusalem will operate until 9:30 PM each day, instead of until 7:30 PM, as at present, with two trains an hour in each direction. Five additional trains will be used on this route on Saturday night, with one train an hour in each direction. The total number of trains operating on Saturday will rise from 54 to 62. Over the coming year, the electric railway infrastructure on the track to the Tel Aviv Hagana railway station will be completed, after which trains will travel continuously between the station and Jerusalem.

Israel Railway's last innovation is a graphic one: a map of the new routes. The company explains that it was designed in preparation for the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv.

The announcement of the new timetable was overshadowed by railway malfunctions. At Rosh HaAyin, a problem emerged with the points directing trains from one set of tracks to another leading to Tel Aviv. The malfunction caused severe delays and disruptions in railway traffic throughout Israel. Israel Railways shortened the trips of several interurban trains at the Hagana and Savidor Central railways stations in Tel Aviv.

Employees did not disrupt work yesterday, but the tension between them and Israel Railway's management is still high. A labor court hearing on labor relations at the company ended with no ruling. The hearing concerned a petition by the workers' committee against management claiming that the work schedule published for drivers does not allow them long enough breaks between work and endangers the passengers. In protest against the schedule, the workers last week disrupted the routes between Karmiel and Haifa and between the Rishonim railway station in Rishon Lezion and Tel Aviv. The employees went back to work under pressure from the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel).

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 18, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

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Israel Railways  photo: Lihi Eliyahu
Israel Railways photo: Lihi Eliyahu
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