Wednesday, January 03, 2007

An Open Letter to Israel Railways

(UPDATE: Soon to be sent to: Israel Railways, The Public Commissioner, PO Box 18085, Tel Aviv 61180. Fax: 03 693 7443)
From: (me)
Date sent: January 3, 2007

To whom it may concern,
I am an olah, and a frequent rider of Israel Railways. My work as a reporter often takes me from my home in southern Jerusalem to points in the North and to Be'er Sheva. When train service began from Malha, I was elated. Even though the trip to Tel Aviv was 20 minutes longer than the bus ride, I was more than happy to trade the 20 minutes for a more pleasant ride.
However, on my most recent trip to Haifa, after the new train schedule began and I had to switch in Bet Shemesh, the trip from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv took almost 2.5 hours!
It is bad enough that the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv trip was 20 minutes longer than the bus, but it was shown that many people like me are willing to sacrifice a small amount of time for comfort. Having to switch in Bet Shemesh, however, creates two problems:
First, even if the train schedules are coordinated so that the wait in Bet Shemesh is only a few minutes, it is an annoyance to have to pack up one's belongings after only 40 minutes, leave the train, and then re-settle oneself on another train.
Second, the train schedule was NOT coordinated, and I waited in Bet Shemesh for 48 minutes for the train to Tel Aviv!
I have been thinking about what benefits you think you will gain from the new schedule, and have decided that this new plan must be politically motivated in some way, because certainly none of your customers who travel between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem benefit in any way. You will certainly lose many customers who travel between Israel's two largest cities, because as pleasant as the train may be, I cannot imagine anyone being willing to spend over two hours traveling between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
If I were just slightly more cynical, I would believe that you are deliberately attempting to undermine Jerusalem's urban infrastructure.
Until you restore direct Jerusalem-Tel Aviv service, you can certainly count on thousands of people deciding, as I have, never to take the train -- because train travel into and out of Jerusalem has been rendered absolutely pointless.


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