After drivers’ strike, trains expected to operate on schedule

Disruptions started last Wednesday as 42 engine drivers, about 20% of the country’s drivers, announced their sudden ‘illness’ just as a new schedule went into effect with more trains to make traveling more accommodating for the passengers.

By Daniel Schmil



The trains are expected to run on schedule Sunday, despite the ongoing tension between Israel Railways management and the train drivers, which led to the cancellation of 40 trains last Thursday.

Passengers boarding an Israel Railways train in Tel Aviv, Sept. 21, 2012.

Passengers boarding an Israel Railways train in Tel Aviv, (illustrative) – Photo: Daniel Bar-On

Sanctions started last Wednesday when 42 engine drivers, about 20 percent of all the drivers, announced their sudden illness just as a new schedule went into effect with more trains, including direct lines from Ashdod and Ashkelon to Tel Aviv.

The drivers were ordered by the Labor Court to show up for work or prove they were really ill. Seventeen of the drivers were supposed to return to work on Friday, after being examined by a company doctor and found fit to work. But only five reported to work, prompting the management to file for contempt of court.

The court hearing is due to take place Sunday morning.

Israel Railways management says 27 engine drivers had been examined, 21 were found fit to drive. The workers’ union said only 11 drivers had been found fit to drive.

Israel Railways officials said they did not expect railway disruptions Sunday, but cautioned that the conflict between the drivers and management could trigger disruptions, as it did last week.

The new train schedule introduced last week consists of faster, more frequent trains and a direct train from Ashkelon and Ashdod to Tel Aviv.

The drivers claim that they are under increasing pressure and are sometimes required to drive the train 12 consecutive hours. They say the illness that struck so many at once Saturday was due to exhaustion.


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