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Train-bus Collision Site Closed to Buses Pending Corrective Measures

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A railroad crossing where 19 children and three adults were killed in a train-bus collision last month has been barred to buses by the Transport Ministry until corrective measures can be taken. But a dispute has arisen over which authorities — national or local — should do the necessary work.

The crossing is one of several hundred in Israel with neither gates nor warning signals because the road that crosses the tracks is little used. The road leads to a seashore nature preserve at Moshav Habonim south of Haifa. The collision victims were seventh-graders from a Petach Tikva junior highschool, on an outing with their teachers and a few accompanying parents.

The accident was one of the worst of its kind in Israel’s history. An official inquiry by the Transport Ministry found the bus driver, who lost her life, to have been at fault. But it also found that the “geometry” of the crossing contributed to the accident, specifically, a sharp bend in the road and a steep slope where it crosses the railway tracks.

According to the Transport Ministry, it was up to the Carmel District Council to remove that hazard. The Council maintains, however, that responsibility lies with the government which owns the railroad right-of-way.

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