Red Line glitches pile up

Light rail station  credit: Yossi Cohen
Light rail station credit: Yossi Cohen

Some of the faults on the Tel Aviv area light rail line are teething troubles, but some are a result of deficiencies in planning and execution.

The Red Line of the Greater Tel Aviv area light rail system opened six months ago, and while, operationally, it has been fairly successful, there are also many faults. Some of them are teething troubles, but some are a result of deficient planning and execution when the line was built. "Globes" has learned of several faults that state-owned company NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System, which was responsible for constructing the line and supervises its operation, and operator Tevel, have made efforts to conceal.

For example, heavy rains disrupt the running of the trains because of a drainage problem along the route that causes the rails to be swamped. This causes rust in the points, so that trains cannot be switched between lines. The rusted components, without which the trains cannot run, need to be repaired or replaced, and the stock of them is limited.

Damp in the driver’s cabin

A safety and operational fault was recently recorded at the Elifelet station in Tel Aviv. Tevel gave notice of a technical fault that prevented trains from running in the direction of Bat Yam. Faults in the train doors activated an indicator of an open door, and so the signaling system prevented the trains from moving. The station manager was meant to isolate the faulty door, to check that all was well, and to allow the train to continue on its journey, but instead of that, the driver overrode the signaling system, until the train, which was on the wrong track, hit a set of points, which caused it to stop.

In another incident, a train’s faulty brakes brought train traffic to a halt, and drivers report that although the trains are brand new, rain drips into the driver’s cabin, making the controls wet. All this is in addition to the faults NTA has reported in the signaling system.

Although this is a new system, and faults are part and parcel of commissioning any large infrastructure project, NTA will have to draw lessons for its forthcoming projects. At any rate, according to sources in the sector, Minister of Transport Miri Regev’s bureau is deriving satisfaction from the recent spate of glitches, after announcing the minister’s support for transferring the future Tel Aviv Metro project to a new government company instead of NTA, because of the search process for the next CEO of NTA and the fact that NTA’s board of directors, which is conducting the search, operates independently.

Since the Red Line opened, it has recorded over nine million journeys, about 120,000 daily on average before the outbreak of the Swords of Iron war, and 75,000 currently.

The opening of the line, which cost NIS 18.7 billion, was delayed for more than a year because of faults discovered in trial runs. Even so, despite the realization that the time allowed for trial runs was too short, a similar period has been set for the Green Line, due to open at the end of 2028, and the Purple Line, due to open at the end of 2027, and the assessment is that that the operation of these lines too will be postponed.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on March 5, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Light rail station  credit: Yossi Cohen
Light rail station credit: Yossi Cohen
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