Tel Aviv - Savidor Merkaz
Tel Aviv's Savidor Merkaz station is one of the central hubs that permits transfer to all of the system's lines, and it was here that I transferred to the train to Haifa. I didn't get a chance to see exactly what the equipment was, but I think it was group of coaches pulled by a Alstom Prima diesel locomotive.
The railway company doesn't seem to wash their coaches very often, presumably to avoid the waste of water. This leaves the windows caked in dirt and difficult to photography through. When we were stopped at Alit, I popped my head out of the open door and photographed the station sign, at which point a train police officer accosted me and asked what I was taking pictures of.
On the day I visited, the train police were wearing blue polo shirts under khaki jackets. I said that I was a tourist, to which he replied, "I know." I told him that I wanted to get a clean picture of the station sign, and I showed him my camera. He flipped through the photos on my camera and then asked to see my passport. It didn't help that his blonde hair, blue eyes and vaguely German accent conjured a host of conflicting stereotypes in my imagination. After a tense moment where he couldn't find the visa stamp and I had to point out the lightly-printed stamp on the first page, he asked why I was here and I mentioned that I was on a tour and that I studied transportation systems at the University of Illinois. He pondered this for a moment before returning my camera and passport, grunting an "Okay" and walking away.
It was a curious moment that reminded me that I was visiting a fragile police state facing an incessant, existential threat. The cognitive dissonance between that awareness and photography as an act of civil disobedience was thought provoking - and made me appreciate the comparative freedom I had back at home in the USA.