Train service cut by 20% in wake of last week’s fire

Service will be canceled on five lines, and 14 stations will be closed.

Israel train fire 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Israel train fire 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Israel Railways announced on Sunday that it is reducing service across the country by 20 percent following last week’s fire aboard a passenger train near Netanya.
Until further notice, service will be canceled on five lines, and 14 stations will be closed.
Tuesday’s fire, which caused injury to 79 people, mostly from smoke inhalation and cuts suffered while exiting the train, was apparently caused by a mechanical malfunction and not an electrical short circuit as was originally thought. An investigative committee assigned by Israel Railways CEO Yitzhak Harel found that a broken Cardan joint, which connects the engine to the wheels and is located next to the diesel tank, was the likely cause of the fire.
As a result of the findings, Israel Railways decided to temporarily decommission its fleet of Inter City 3 railcars, until completing mechanical testing.
The company currently employs 48 of the Danish-made railcars.
On Thursday, The Jerusalem Post reported that train involved in a fire did not measure up to safety standards put into place in Israel in 2006.
Chaim Tamam, deputy chief inspector of the Fire and Rescue Services, told the Post that a number of regulations called for under Fire Safety Code 5435 were not adhered to in the train, putting the lives of the passengers at risk.
“Code 5435 deals with all the safety aspects of a train in case of fire, including how the exits, engines and stations should operate. For instance, under this code, trains must be sealed so that smoke can’t go from one carriage to another,” Tamam said.
“In case of fire, passengers must be able to open the doors to exit [the train] and the emergency lights must come on so people can see.
“None of these worked [in Tuesday’s fire].”
According to Israel Railways, the temporary decommissioning of the carriages means that its operations have dropped from 340 to 220 trains a day, reducing passenger seating capacity by 20%, from 36,000 to 27,500.
Israel Railways announced that for the near future, traffic between Hod Hasharon and Rishon Lezion via Tel Aviv; between Beersheba and Dimona; and between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem via Ramle and Beit Shemesh will be suspended in both directions. Additionally, regional trains going from Haifa to Kiryat Motzkin will be suspended as well as the 07:56 train from Modi’in to Tel Aviv.
All services will be suspended to the following stations: Hod Hasharon (Sokolov), Kfar Saba (Nordau), Rosh Ha’ayin (North), Petah Tikva (Segula and Kiryat Aryeh), Bnei Brak, Rishon Lezion (Harishonim), Ramle, Beit Shemesh, Jerusalem (Biblical Zoo and Malcha) and Dimona.
Both the Transportation Ministry and Israel Railways have asked bus companies to increase service in the affected areas and Israel Railways has leased 250 buses to operate as shuttles instead of the temporarily decommissioned trains.
Israel Railways also announced that passengers who have monthly or weekly passes can obtain refunds at ticket offices.
The discontinued services due to the fire come at a time when Israel Railways is already reducing operations due to construction works on its southern lines.
For full details about the discontinued services visit spx or dial *5770.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.