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The scheduled September 23 opening of the high-speed Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railway may be delayed by the declaration of a labor dispute by the Israel Railways workers' committee. A course for training teachers for locomotive drivers is slated to begin next week. According to the project's timetable, any delay of more than a week in beginning the course will delay the entire project.
According to internal Israel Railways assessments, the dispute with the employees is one of three risk factors liable to delay the target date set for launching the line. The two other factors are electrification work on the line, which has not been completed on the section between Mishmar Ayalon and Tel Aviv, and independent safety tests by German standards institute TUV SUD; Israel Railways has no way of knowing how much time it will take to obtain all the necessary approvals.
When the line is first opened, one train an hour will be scheduled, planned to increase to four trains an hour. Due to capacity constraints at the Hagana Railway Station, however no more than two trains an hour can be run. For this reason, it will be impossible to achieve a frequency of four trains an hour before electrification of the railway track as far as the Savidor Railway Station is completed, which is liable to take several more months.
Although travel on the new line will be free for Jerusalem residents during the running in period, Israel Railways is preparing to initially allow this only for those registering online for railway tickets because it fears being flooded by passengers.
The high-speed train project was scheduled to begin operating before Passover, but Israel Railways announced a six-month delay several weeks before that date because "not all the necessary regulatory approvals for operating the line have been obtained," following requirements by Israel Police and various rescue authorities. As reported in "Globes," however, the engineering work for completing the line was also far from completion.
This article first appeared on en.globes.co.il
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