Residents blast Israel Railways for noise violations
According to the complaint filed with Jerusalem District police, the railroad has violated noise statutes two occasions, when mining work began or ended outside the allotted time frame.
A group of Mevasseret Zion residents filed a police complaint against Israel Railways on Wednesday, saying the railroad is violating a state directive that sets clear instructions regarding construction near a residential area.
Shortly after the directive was issued by Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, Israel Railways petitioned the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court to cancel it. A court decision on the matter is pending.
According to the complaint filed with Jerusalem District police, since the directive was issued - about two-and-a-half weeks ago - the railroad has violated it on two occasions, when mining work began or ended outside the allotted time frame.
The directive sets a fine of NIS 404,000 for every violation of this type. The ministry directive, issued to Israel Railways CEO Boaz Zafrir and to contractors working on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv line, limits mining work to between 7 A.M. and 7 P.M. on weekdays, and between 7 A.M. and 5 P.M. on rest days.
Mevasseret Zion residents claim that the railroad must now pay NIS 808,000 to the state. In one instance, they say, a police patrol vehicle was called to the site, which halted the work until the allowed hour. "This is part of the railway's way of working," says Y., who lives close to the area and asked to remain anonymous.
"The deviations from the allowed working hours are not large - an hour here or there - but that's how they work," Y. added. "They start small and slowly expand, deviating more and more. We've been suffering from this for half a year already."
Erdan issued the directive following a large number of complaints to the ministry by local residents suffering from the noise. "Israel Railways is not above the law and I will not allow it to destroy the quality of life of the area's residents," Erdan said at the time.
Mevasseret Zion residents are not the only ones in the Jerusalem area who have complaints against the railroad. As published several weeks ago in Haaretz, residents living in and around Lifta, at the entrance to the capital, maintain that the nearby tunnel construction work is taking place without engineering supervision on their homes. They say cracks have appeared along the walls of their homes as a result of explosions in the nearby hillside.
Israel Railways rejected the residents' claims, saying that they are squatting in these buildings. Regarding the complaints by Mevasseret Zion residents, the railroad says it "respects the directive, acts according to its instructions, has halved the number of work hours and is not carrying out any noisy work between 7 P.M. and 7 A.M. It saddens us that Mevasseret residents continue to act to halt this important project of building a fast rail link between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and, because of a number of residents, the opening will have to be put back."