Environmental Protection Ministry, Railways Spar Over Air Pollution

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israeli train stations may be hazardous to your health. So said The Environmental Protection Ministry on Tuesday, citing unusually high levels of air pollution at the Tel Aviv HaShalom and Bat Yam Yoseftal train stations, according to Ynet.

Israel Railways management responded with indignation, accusing the EPM of alarmist behavior that could throw the nation’s rail network into chaos.

The EPM, along with the Health Ministry, advised the public to spend as little time as possible on the train platforms at those stations. Heart and lung patients, the elderly, children, and expectant mothers are especially at risk, they said.

The EPM summoned the heads of Israel Railways to a hearing on the matter after recent measurements showed dangerously high levels of respirable particles (diesel particles) and nitrogen dioxide (from both private vehicles and train engines), raising a public health concern.

Israel Railways released a statement warning that a curtailment of service at these stations would “cause transportation chaos the likes of which we haven’t seen in many years.”

“Some 100,000 passengers a day will have to forgo the services of the train due to the Environmental Protection Ministry’s instructions, which in reality would mean stopping train movement to and from the greater Tel Aviv metropolitan area. This would lead to the use of thousands of cars and buses instead of trains, which will increase the risks on the road and will not serve to reduce air pollution,” the train company said.

However, Israel Railways did not deny the EPM findings. Instead it claimed that the hearing was unjustified and that it has been taking “all means at its disposal to find immediate solutions for the issue, both in Israel and abroad.”

The company is currently in the midst of the electrification of the railway system, which is expected to reduce air pollution. The first electricity-based line will run between Herzliya and Yerushalayim and is expected to open within a few years.