\r\nIR is continuing to work towards improving efficiency, including encouraging early retirement of employees who have spent more than 40 years working for the company.\r\n \r\nIR carried an average of 250,000 passengers a day in the first half of the year, up 4.5% from 239,000 the year before. The daily average for Sundays and Mondays, the most crowded weekly days, was 263,000 compared with 249,000, up 5.6%.\r\nIn total, IR carried 33.5 million passengers between January and June, compared with 31.5 million, while increased 5% to Shekels 1bn. Annual passenger traffic for 2018 is expected to be 70 million, compared with 65m in 2017.\r\nWhile average punctuality of passenger trains during the first half of 2018 was 93%, this was partially due to the closure of some sections due to infrastructure works. Another factor was the practice where, in order to maintain punctuality, passengers on certain late-running trains were instructed to alight before their destination and wait for the next train, while the empty train made up time. Following passenger complains, transport minister Mr Israel Katz instructed IR to maintain punctuality without causing passengers further discomfort.\r\nStrikes in the ports of Haifa and Ashdod caused a 4.4% reduction in freight, with IR transporting 4.4 million tonnes of freight during the first half of 2018, compared with 4.6 million. Revenue from freight was around Shekels 166m, down from Shekels 181m.