Environment Ministry orders halt to night rail

Israel Railways ordered to cease night work on high-speed Jerusalem-to-Tel Aviv train due to noise disturbances.

Jerusalem train station 390 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem train station 390
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Environmental Protection Ministry has ordered Israel Railways to cease night work on the portion of the high-speed Jerusalem-to-Tel Aviv train that passes through Mevaseret Zion due to noise disturbances.
Filing a court order against CEO of Israel Railways, Boaz Tzafrir, as well as the contractors working on his behalf, the ministry demanded on Tuesday that all work on the rail line in Mevaseret stop at night.
The noise, according to the ministry, is “unreasonable,” and the company has already ignored a number of past ministry requests. Failure to comply will lead to a criminal investigation and a maximum penalty of up to NIS 404,000 per night of violation, the ministry reported.
“The residents are entitled to peace and quiet in their homes, especially at night,” said Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan.
“Israel Rail is not above the law and I will not allow it to destroy the quality of life of local residents.”
The Environment Ministry filed for the court decree after conducting a survey among Mevaseret Zion homes, which indicated a large number of complaints from residents in the region about the unusually loud noise occurring as a result of heavy work at night, the ministry said.
In response, Israel Railways criticized the ministry’s method of demanding work cessation and slammed the government office for jeopardizing Israeli national interests.
“The decree of the Environmental Protection Ministry endangers a national project, of a high-speed connection between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with an investment of NIS 8 billion, which is expected to revolutionize transportation – reducing air pollution and traffic accidents on the busiest roads that ascend to and descend from Jerusalem,” a statement from Israel Railways said. “Every obstacle will postpone the activation of the line, will directly hurt Jerusalem residents and will bring serious economic damage to the State of Israel.”
The statement provided assurance that the company would abide by every court order it receives, but said that it is also currently examining the legality of the decree.
The court order, according to Israel Railways, passed without discussion and with ministry representatives neglecting to tour the work site, after receiving an invitation from the body authorized to supervise environmental aspects of the site. This body, the company explained, includes representatives from the Transportation, Interior and Environmental Protection ministries.
“The court order that was received is based on examinations of noise levels that were not supplied to Israel Railways and is incompatible with previous tests that were performed in the past, and whose results were transferred to the Environmental Protection Ministry,” the statement said.