Feb 25, 2008

Problem Solving 101

If I go to the Israel Railways website and check the train schedules for the details of the trip between Bet Shemesh and Tel Aviv (Merkaz), I would get the results that the train departs from Bet Shemesh at, for example, 7:27 am and arrives in Tel Aviv (Merkaz) at 8:12 am. A 45 minutes ride.

The train used to run on the schedule of 7:46 from BS and arriving in TA at 8:31. The train was almost always on time, and at worst it would be a minute or two late. They changed the schedule to the current schedule and have since suffered tremendous delays.

When they fist changed the schedule, we only arrived in Tel Aviv Merkaz at about 8:35 on average (remember that according to the schedule we should be arriving at 8:12). It took a few months, but now the situation is much better and our average time of arrival in TA Merkaz is about 8:23 or so. Still unacceptably late, but better than it was.

The cause for delays is generally a spot between Bet Shemesh and Ramle that has only one set of train tracks. That means that before getting to that point, the train has to wait a few minutes for the train traveling in the opposite direction to finish that section. If the trains are not synced well, the wait could be anywhere from 3 minutes to 15 minutes, and sometimes in more than one spot.

So the situation has improved but is still not good. The people running the Railways Authority (or whatever they call themselves) have decided that the delays are still a problem and it looks bad for them that this route is consistently arriving past its deadline. They have committed themselves to resolving the problems of this route.

And now the moment you have all been waiting for - the resolution. After much brainstorming and committee work and many sleepless nights drinking coffee trying to find a solution, one has finally been found. U'Va L'Tziyon Go'el!!

They just announced that they are making some more changes to the route, one of which is changing the times. An astute friend and reader noticed that the train will now (starting March 15) leave Bet Shemesh at 7:23 and arrive in Tel Aviv Merkaz at 8:13.

Get it?

Instead of figuring out what is the cause of the delays and making it more efficient by getting rid of the source of the delays, they have decided to build the delay into the travel schedule of the train. They advanced the time of departure by 4 minutes, they extended the arrival time by another minute, adding a total of 5 minutes to the schedule. Now they expect the train to arrive on time! (I wonder if they will now adhere to the schedule or if the arrivals in TA will still be late)

There you have today's lesson in problem solving...


  1. Did you check if they also modified the schedule of the train coming in the reverse direction, which is the cause of the dreaded "mifgash rekavot"?

  2. they adjusted iut by 2 mintes. I have no idea if it enough to avoid a mifgash rakavot or not

  3. At least they're honest, if not very efficient. I wish the airline here would publish realistic schedules. As horrifying at it would be, at least I could plan better!


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