Costs of Israel’s Railway Construction Crisis Reach $3.2 Million

Most reflects lost revenues to Israel Railways and compensation to contractors.

Lines outside at Haifa train station. September 4, 2016.
Gil Eliahu

The direct costs of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s order to cease work on the railways last Shabbat and the delays in resuming train service on Sunday have been estimated at 12 million shekels ($3.2 million).

But the figure does not include the time and expense to people taking their cars when they could have been taking public transportation. Also, many arrived late for work and suffered further gasoline expenses sitting in traffic jams.

Most of the direct cost has been borne by Israel Railways, which had to pay compensation to contractors for canceling scheduled work over the weekend. There is also the lost revenue from passengers who could not ride the trains most of the day on Sunday. The company also rented about 100 buses to transport soldiers.

Around 200,000 to 250,000 people did not ride the trains Saturday evening and Sunday morning, the busiest times of the week as soldiers and students return to their bases and schools.

The rest of the direct costs are being absorbed by the Transportation Ministry, which rented some 220 buses to help make up for the loss of train service.

Unless the policy for maintenance and repair work on Shabbat changes, state-owned Israel Railways will absorb further losses in the coming weeks from canceled service on Fridays, Saturday nights and Sundays.