The Knesset Economics Committee is expected on Wednesday to approve beginning
partial service on Jerusalem’s light rail, which would operate for a symbolic
fee along the capital’s Jaffa Road starting as early as April
Questionnaire: Working on the railroad
Ready, set, go! (Just not on the light rail track)
According to reports, the public will be allowed to ride the train for
a 2.5 kilometer stretch on Jaffa Road for a fee of one to three shekels, to help
the public acclimate to the train and ease congestion in the downtown area. The
trial period could cost the state upwards of NIS 10 million.
The rail has
been going through a testing period that is required by law, and is set to end
on April 7. The transportation minister can extend the testing period by six
months, for a total of 12 months.
Metuna, a road safety organization,
released a scathing criticism of the light rail ahead of the Knesset meeting,
calling on the transportation minister to extend the trial period until October
to allow for further testing.
Metuna claims that there are official
estimates that between 10 and 30 people would be killed by the light rail in its
first year of operation. Both the Jerusalem Municipality and the
Transportation Master Plan have strongly refuted this claim.
director, Mordechai Feder, said that the temporary fence along the light rail
path and the security guards at intersections have been successful in preventing
any pedestrian injuries, but both of those security measures will eventually be
Feder called on transportation officials to maintain the
temporary security measures.
“There’s no reason for 10 or more people to
be sacrificed in name of the architectural purity of Jaffa Road,” he
As the light rail comes closer to becoming fully operational on
August 8, transportation officials are working to train the city’s emergency
services and policemen to respond to emergency situations along the rail’s 13.8
Ten Jerusalem firefighters recently returned from a trip
to Dublin, where they received practical training about operating emergency
equipment around the light rail from Dublin firefighters. Dublin has exactly the
same light rail model as Jerusalem, making it an ideal city for
Two months ago, when firefighters ran tests on Jaffa Road soon
after it was closed to traffic, they were frustrated with the long delay posed
by the electric wires that supply the train with power.
Currently, if the
Fire and Rescue Service needs to turn off the electricity to raise a ladder to a
building on Jaffa Road, someone from the train company must travel to the area
of the incident and manually turn the electricity off.
In the best
situation, it can take at least 20 minutes for a train official to come from the
nearest depot. In the case of a large-scale terrorist attack or other emergency
that blocks roads, this could be even longer, creating a deadly delay.
Ireland, emergency services are able to alert the train company about the area
of the accident, and the train officials can remotely shut down the electricity
to that area. Assaf Abras, the Jerusalem firefighters spokesman, said the
firefighters are working with the relevant engineers to implement the same
system in Jerusalem.
“We haven’t solved all of the existing problems but
we’re working with the committees to solve the problems and raise our concerns,”
He added that the firefighters would be meeting regularly
with representatives from light rail operator CityPass and the municipality
between now and the proposed August start date to iron out problems with the
electricity, traffic, and other safety and security concerns.
process, and there are solutions, we’re progressing slowly,” he
Abras said he was “hopeful” that all of their conditions could be
met before trains became fully operational in August.
volunteers with United Hatzalah, a rescue organization whose members use
motorcycles and private cars to respond to emergencies across the city, received
special training about how to drive along the light rail path while trains are
After Jaffa Road was closed to traffic in January, United
Hatzalah volunteers were banned from traveling on Jaffa Road, which
significantly hindered their ability to respond to incidents in the downtown
Following a Jerusalem Post investigation, the Jerusalem
Transportation Master Plan connected with United Hatzalah and decided offer the
special training to their volunteers. Ambulance drivers from Magen David Adom
had already received the same training.
Fourteen accident investigators
with the Jerusalem Police recently completed a special course about how to
investigate accidents involving the light rail.
“This type of accident
has a totally different behavior than any other vehicle,” said Jack Dadon, the
security and safety adviser to the Transportation Master Plan. “The braking
signs, the braking distance, the damage to the track itself, everything is
different,” he said.