My daughter Havva told me WHY I can’t just show up and ride the trains. According to what she has heard, each station has a lift used to get the wheelchair (and presumably the person in it) onto the train, thus avoiding the gap between train and platform. These lifts are heavy, and are kept folded and locked up. So each train station needs time to get the lift out and set up for the w/c user. OR – (and we’ll find this out tomorrow) we may decide we don’t need it, as people with strollers manage to get them on and off the train without special equipment.
In any event we’ve made our reservations according to the רכבת ישראל – Israel Rail – for tomorrow, leaving Sderot around 11:00am, stopping in Tel Aviv for lunch at Azrieli Center, and arriving in Nehariah around 4pm. Hashem willing and the train doesn’t derail. Wish us luck!