Four trains on the recently opened Jerusalem-Ben Gurion rail link were cancelled this morning between 6.30am and 7.30am due to the failure of electrical engineering teams from the Spanish company Semi to carry out required work.
This follows yesterday evening, when Israel Railways announced a third breakdown on its new Tel Aviv-Jerusalem line: "A fault was discovered in the locomotive of a train travelling from Ben Gurion Airport to the Jerusalem Navon station shortly after it left Ben Gurion." The train, which was carrying about 150 passengers and five crew, was rescued by a standby locomotive. Israel Railways stated that: "The passengers were sent personal SMS messages describing the breakdown and its consequences, and water and snacks were distributed. Buses were brought to Ben Gurion Airport to serve the passengers."
The previous morning, a breakdown stopped traffic on the line in both directions, and six days ago the line was out of operation for four hours, with sixteen trains cancelled, although this incident had no connection to the fact that the line is a new one.
The line was opened to passengers only three weeks ago. It was meant to connect Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with a journey time of just 29 minutes starting from the recent Sukkot holiday. The line did open on the date announced by Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz, but only partially, and at present trains run only between Jerusalem and Ben Gurion Airport.
"When you work under time pressure and according to tenders in which quality is not the determining factor, this is the end result," a senior manager on the rapid rail link told "Globes" yesterday. "If it turns out that the fault is systemic, the line could be out of operation for a long time. If it is only an isolated breakdown, it could be fixed within the next few hours."
Knesset Economic Affairs Committee chairman Eitan Cabel said yesterday evening in response to the continual breakdowns on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv line, "With each passing day we come realize that the train to Jerusalem is nothing more than an electioneering farce. Netanyahu and Katz chose a PR photo-op on the escalator at the expense of travelers and their safety. This project is one of the greatest failures of recent years.
"The Economic Affairs Committee will hold an emergency session on the matter. The professionals will have to give answers," Cabel said.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 16, 2018
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