Kol Yisrael Radio reported within the hour that Chacham Ovadia Shlita has secured an agreement from Israel Railways regarding the emergency repair work presently underway on Shabbos.
IR has never run on Shabbos, but recently began undertaking emergency repair work to close off unguarded crossings and build both overpasses where busy grade crossings exist as well as construct gates at many crossing not previously gated. Safety requirements demanded that the work be done only when there are no trains running, even at slow speed, in the construction zones. Until now IR claimed that the work was piku’ach nefesh given the number of crashes recently, but Gedoley Hatorah had come out and said find a better solution.
The compromise agreed to this afternoon guarantees only non-Jewish workers on site on Shabbos (although the senior project managers will remain Yidden as there literally are no gentiles employed at that level by IR).
The most important point in this compromise was the astonishment and praise for Chacham Ovadia’s office openly expressed by commentators on Galei Tzahal (radio station). It was a true Kiddush Hashem relative to the criticism of the threatened boycott of the two Israeli airlines.
The two points reiterated all afternoon on the Israeli news talk-show was that Chacham Ovadia sought and secured a positive compromise and solution rather than threaten; and that he succeeded even though he held no threat of a boycott — less than 1% of all monthly commuters on IR are charedi, as distinct from the airlines where they represent a legitimate segment of the clientele.