Old and new

Modi'in residents are stuck with obsolete Israel Railway cars as Siemens postpones delivery for the third time.

Repeated delays in the delivery of new cars from Siemens has forced Israel Railways to hang onto obsolete, slam-door cars that were slated to be decommissioned, to make up the shortfall in rolling stock and avoid timetable delays. Israel Railways has delayed the removal from service of 54 cars, some of which are almost as old as the state, reports the financial Web site Globes. Of these, 18 have been sent to service on the Ben-Gurion Airport-Modi'in line. Passengers on this line have frequently complained that the old slam-door cars are uncomfortable and often break down en route. Siemens recently announced a third postponement in the delivery of the railway cars to August-November 2008, a year after it was supposed to supply them under the tender it won. Israel Railways is set to pursue a claim for compensation against Siemens and is also considering issuing a tender for rolling stock from other suppliers to avoid further disruption to services. A spokesperson for Israel Railways said: "Due to the delay by Siemens, we have had to run two old trains [18 cars], mainly on the line to Modi'in. We would stress, however, that the cars undergo regular inspection and have been found suitable for use." Meanwhile, Jerusalem residents will have to wait until at least 2013 for the 30-km. fast-train from Modi'in Central. Construction on the series of bridges and tunnels has been frozen, pending a government review of the huge cost over-runs. Shapir Civil and Marine Engineering Ltd. and the Austrian company Voestalpine Schienen GmbH, which won the construction tender for the NIS 1.6 billion tunnels 20 months ago, have yet to receive a work permit because of the issue of where to dispose of the rubble. But Modi'in residents still have something to celebrate. On Monday, the first section of Route 431 opened, linking the Aneva junction with the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway. When completed, the 23-km. highway will stretch across the southern and eastern areas of greater Tel Aviv from the Ayalon highway (Route 20) through Geha Road (Route 4) by Rishon Lezion, Rehovot, Ramle and Modi'in. On Tuesday, developer David Azrieli's glittering granite and glass $100-million shopping mall opened next to Modi'in Central Station - offering frustrated riders somewhere to go while they wait for their antique trains.