Traffic was a mess in Tel Aviv Monday morning on Day One of the loss of railway service that is going to last for more than a week. Major traffic jams were reported on all roads leading into Tel Aviv from north, south and east. Police appealed to drivers to be patient, and to take buses where possible.
After several weeks of working on infrastructure on Shabbos, chalilah, Israel Railways has expanded its infrastructure work – and as a result, there will be no train service through central Tel Aviv beginning Monday morning and for the subsequent eight days. And, officials said, an early end to the work is unlikely, despite the efforts Railway officials promised would be made.
Three main train stations in the center of the city will be closed, with trains from northern Israel terminating in Herzilya, and trains from the south ending their route at the Hagana station in south Tel Aviv. Shuttle buses will run along the route of the railway, with passengers deposited in front of the stations. But as traffic volume is expected to rise significantly, officials are making no guarantees on commuting times – and are urging commuters to either leave for work earlier or to arrange to work at home this week.
According to officials, between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Monday some 10,000 people were shuttled on 150 buses that were allocated to move passengers along roads paralleling the rail line. Also popular were special bus lines that were instituted for the week for travelers who needed to go from areas north of Tel Aviv to the south, and vice versa.
The purpose of the work is to lay tracks that will allow for the use of electricity-powered trains, which will run along the fast-rail line between Tel Aviv and Yerushalayim. Currently, the trains are powered by gas engine cars that pull passenger cars behind them along the track.