Israel Railways safety agreement averts strike

By OREN KESSLER
August 5, 2011 04:13

Transportation Minister Katz: Safe, reliable rail travel “presents a solution to some housing problems of Tel Aviv and the central area.”

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Israrail train by Bombardier

Israrail train Bombardier 311. (photo credit:Bombardier)

A long-awaited safety plan was agreed upon overnight Thursday between the Israel Railways employees committee, avoiding a rail workers’ strike and ending weeks of difficult negotiations.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said safe and reliable rail travel “presents a solution to some of the housing problems of Tel Aviv and the central area.”

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The plan will allow “quality people to move to the periphery, and young people and students to stay in the periphery and work in Tel Aviv,” he said.

Katz said in June he would shut down rail service unless a new safety plan was proposed.

The ultimatum came following a spate of accidents this year, including a collision between two trains that injured 60 people in Netanya.

Meanwhile, the national rail carrier is set to unveil a series of changes designed to make train travel more convenient and reliable.

Lines are set to open late next month between Tel Aviv and Holon, and between Bat Yam and Rishon Lezion. Travel from Tel Aviv to Holon will take just 10 minutes, and 18 minutes from Tel Aviv to Rishon Lezion. In January, the line will be extended to Yavne, just a 28-minute ride from Tel Aviv.

A month later, the doubling of the Tel Aviv-Beersheba line will allow travel between the two cities in as little as 50 minutes.

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