Afternoon rush hour trains reduced after drivers call in sick for second day in a row

Over two dozen transit drivers launch Italian strike, causing delays; Israel Railways working to minimize impact on customers.

For the second day in a row, a chunk of Israel Railways workers called in sick for work on Thursday, forcing the company to shut down a large number of lines during peak travel times.
After 41 of the company’s 215 drivers took off of work due to supposed illness on Wednesday, 40 did the same on Thursday, a spokesman for the company said.
However, the management reportedly saw several of the workers playing football on Wednesday. Assuming that the drivers had decided to take vacation collectively following new work arrangements on the train, the management issued letters to the employees urging them to return to work that day.
“The company management is working to minimize the harm to passengers [stemming from the workers’ absence] and has accordingly canceled training, education programs and vacations [for the remaining drivers] in order to reduce the impact upon the company’s customers,” a statement from Israel Railways said.
To this effect, the management acquired a court order on Thursday requiring the drivers to return to work immediately. In the court decision, the judge said it was clear that the company was not facing individual personnel issues, but most likely organized, collective activity to protest work arrangements, an Israel Railways spokesman explained.
For all those convinced that they could not yet return to work due to the supposed illness, the spokesman added, a doctor would be available to evaluate their conditions at the railway management complex from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. The workers are required to act in accordance with the doctor’s orders, the company stressed.
Nonetheless, the company decided to cancel a number of train lines particularly during peak afternoon hours on Thursday due to the absence of such a large segment of the driver pool.
From 3 p.m. onward, the suburban train lines between Acre and Kiryat Motzkin – a total of 16 trains – were completely canceled, and service to these stations was available instead on the inter-urban railway lines from Nahariya to Modi’in and Beersheba, which made extra stops, Israel Railways said.
The 3:09 p.m Beit Shemesh-Tel Aviv line concluded its journey at Lod, where passengers were told to transfer to other trains passing through that station, while the train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem at 4:53 p.m. simply began at Lod instead of Tel Aviv, Israel Railways added.
However, the extra train lines operating at night following the Kaveret concert in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park will continue to run as planned, the company said.