To make the country’s trains as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible, Israel should take swift steps to electrify its 420 kilometers of railway track, a senior executive from a Canadian rail giant told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

“We are supporting the investment and deployment of electrification,” said Laurent Troger, president for Rolling Stock Atlantic Services at Bombardier.

“It would provide a significant opportunity to enhance the transportation.”

Troger spoke with the Post following his address on Thursday at the International Transportation Conference at the Kfar Maccabiah convention center in Ramat Gan, sponsored by the Morag Group and the Transportation Ministry, in partnership with the Prime Minister’s Office.

Because trains can save more energy than any other vehicle and provide citizens a sustainable transportation solution, Troger recommended that Israel continue investing in its rail sector. A crucial component in these investments will be the electrification of the Israel Railways network, to bring the train infrastructure up to Western standards and employ advanced operating systems, he explained.

All over the world, “the climate is right for trains,” Troger said in his conference presentation.

Troger described how railways provide very little contribution to overall pollution, accounting for only about 0.6 percent of carbon dioxide emission caused by transportation in the European Union, whereas road traffic accounts for about 70.7 percent.

Looking at traffic volume, Troger said that in an urban environment, a metro rail can carry up to 50,000 people per hour and a light rail up to 22,000 people per hour, whereas cars and buses can only carry 2,100 and 9,000 people per hour, respectively.

Trains and trams, Troger explained, can be used to help cities facing a diverse range of challenges, including urbanization, population growth, pollution, congestion and real estate value and availability.

Once the government moves forward with longstanding plans to electrify its tracks and releases a tender for electric trains, Troger said that Bombardier hopes to offer a competitive prospect. Bombardier is already responsible for the red double-decker coaches that are used in most Israel Railway routes.

The railway would not necessarily need to replace its coaches, and instead, could simply replace the locomotives with fully electric or hybrid diesel-electric versions that can be integrated with existing coaches, Troger explained.

“That’s a very fast and cost-efficient solution for Israel Railways to move to an electric solution,” he said.

Despite environmental objections over potentially unsightly and radiation-emitting high-voltage electricity lines required for such electrification, Troger stressed that this is a stable and very secure transportation solution that is employed all over Western Europe particularly, as well as the rest of the world.

“This type of solution is very well known,” he said. “It is a very proven solution.”

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