THE Ministry of Transportation in Jerusalem has instructed Israel Railways to reduce the maximum speed on the national network from 140 km/h to 120 km/h and on some lines to 105 km/h.

The ruling has nothing to do with the unscheduled arrival of Hizbollah rockets on ISR tracks but stems from a committee appointed to investigate a level crossing accident near Bet Yehoshua, south of Netanya on the main line from Tel Aviv to Haifa, on June 13.

The latest in an unfortunate spate of level crossing collisions, the crash happened when a train struck the wreckage of a car that had been in collision with a pick-up truck at the crossing. The train derailed, leading to six deaths and 80 injuries. The committee of enquiry found that level crossing safety procedures were not being followed properly, and called for acceleration of the programme to eliminate ISR’s 160 level crossings (RG 11.05 p676).

In response to the Ministry’s ruling, ISR General Manager Ofer Linchevsky warned that travelling times would be increased by 20%. The inevitable result will be to discourage people from rail travel - and we note that 480 people were killed in accidents on Israel’s roads during 2004.