Sunday, April 10, 2005

Maiden Voyage (or, I Think I Can)

Tonight I took the inaugural train of the new/old line from Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem. Was it exciting? Absolutely! Here’s a pictorial account of my trip.

The train, which started its run in Haifa at 8:50 p.m., arrives at the Beit Shemesh station at 10:07 p.m. (From Haifa to Beit Shemesh in under an hour and twenty minutes—not bad at all.)

The train arrives at the Beit Shemesh station

All aboard! I hug my friend goodbye and head toward the train.

All aboard!

The Beit Shemesh station from just inside the door of the train.

The Beit Shemesh station, taken from inside the train

On a walk through the train, I discovered that the engineer’s compartment was open. Several media correspondents were there, and the security guard let all of us in. The engineer’s name was Moshe, and he said he was very happy to be driving the train on its maiden voyage. (I apologize for the darkness of the photograph. I also hope to get pictures of the train’s breathtakingly beautiful route in daylight.)

The engineer’s cab by night

A view of the tracks from the engineer’s compartment as we approach the Malha station.

The view from the engineer's cab as we approach the Malha station

One of the Malha station signs.

Malha station sign

The train is temporarily parked on the tracks. Moshe, the engineer, is up ahead, about to get back on the train to drive it to Lod, where it will spend the night.

In Malha. Up ahead is Moshe, the engineer

The train leaves the station for the night.

Heading to park for the night

According to the man from Israel Railways with whom I spoke briefly, the train we traveled on was originally Swedish, and Israel Railways bought it used. Some of the cars still contain the original seats. This man was so up on his train models that he was even able to tell me the train’s original Swedish serial number. For train buffs, here is information on the rolling stock that Israel Railways uses. Most of the information is in Hebrew, but there is enough English to figure out quite a bit.

We traveled in an IC-3, one of the few models that can handle the hills leading to Jerusalem. “We could use other models,” the man from Israel Railways told me, “but then we’d need to use two locomotives up in front, what’s called a double-head. Unfortunately, we can’t use the double-decker model at all. It’s too heavy.”

Our train had nine cars. The average number is twelve, and the maximum permitted number for our particular model is fifteen.

The sparkling new Malha station ...

The interior of the Malha station

... and I’m almost home. Here’s the bus!

The bus home

Gotta go—the driver’s waiting. Good night and shavua tov (have a good week)!

(Cross-posted at Israelity)

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