Israel’s local and national rail services have often been featured on Green Prophet ever since Jerusalem’s light rail service was completed in 2010, and another light rail line proposed for the coastal city of Tel Aviv .Its national rail service, which now runs from the northern coastal city of Nahariya to the Negev desert city of Dimona has now been given approval to continue its line further south to link up the commercial hub of Tel Aviv with the country’s southernmost city of Eilat. The new 330 km line, when completed, will “link up with the periphery in a way that has not been done up until now and create a very great interest on the part of Asia’s rising powers, China and India,” says Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
One important issue that is still to be decided on (and an important environmental one at that) is whether to continue to use petroleum based diesel fuel to power the train’s engines, or to convert them to run on electricity as was proposed by the management of Israel Railways and reported in Haaretz and other news media articles. Although using electricity would result in less air and noise pollution, an issue of great concern to the country’s Ministry of Environmental Protection is the amount of radiation caused by increased electrical current. This increase could be much greater that that allowed by the ministry and by the various municipalities along which the rail line now runs, including the two major cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv.
According to a Haaretz article, members of the Return the City to Haifa organization claimed two months ago that based on the survey, the expected radiation would exceed the level to which the Environmental Protection Ministry agreed in the permit it issued.
Haifa, through which the current Israel rail service runs daily, carrying both passengers and large amounts of freight, also has the distinction of having the country’s only subway service. Known as the Carmalit underground railroad, it has only 6 stations, is 1.8 km in length. It is known as one of the shortest subway systems in the world.
Although the Environment Protection Ministry originally approved a plan given them by the railways in which a “safety zone” of 12 meters would be required on either side of the tracks to insure public safety, regulations issued more recently by the ministry now claim that the radiation levels issued by the high speed trains would result in increased radiation levels that would exceed the maximum allowable radiation limit by more than half – from 10 milliGauss (units of radiation ) to 4 milliGauss as recommended by the country’s Health Ministry.
MilliGauss radiation, generated from electro-magnetic fields, was originally innovated and worked on by Nikola Tesla, whose experiments with electro-magnetic fields and energy were said to have been “buried” by American “Big Oil” companies who feared that energy created by these methods would result in less petroleum being needed.
In a sharp objection to the Environment Protection Ministry’s increased radiation claims, the Israel Railways management, issued a statement that criticized the environment ministry as not being aware that many countries in the world are now switching over to electric trains which are less polluting than diesel oil.
The railways management further noted that the adoption of a more strict radiation threshold of only4 milliGauss is “unparalleled anywhere in the entire world.” They also say that it has not been actually proven that any increased radiation would be damaging to the public.
Perhaps another “rail” transportation idea is need, such as the proposed Tel Aviv Sky Tran transport project that will run on a pillow of air.
More articles on Israel rail issues, including Tel Aviv’s Sky Tran project: