The Jerusalem Municipality announced on Wednesday a plan to extend the light rail to service Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem.

The project will make the entire light rail 22.5 kilometers long, up from the current 13.8 kilometers, and serve approximately half a million people living along the tracks.

The plan to extend the light rail to Jerusalem’s southern neighborhoods was approved by the Local Planning and Building Committee on Wednesday. The public will now have an opportunity to file objections to the plan, which still needs approval from the District Planning and Building Committee, part of the Interior Ministry.

Once all the permits are secured, construction will last at least five years. Although the project has not received final approval, infrastructure work is already under way on the road from Mount Herzl to the Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood’s monster statue and at Hadassah Ein Kerem itself.

The Jerusalem transportation master plan is working with the hospital to build the light rail station inside the hospital while the building is still under construction, in order to minimize disruptions.

The train will be built in two stages: first, from Mount Herzl to the Ora intersection, which is expected to take approximately three years.

Once that part is completed, construction will begin on the second stage from Ora to Hadassah Ein Kerem. Though this section is significantly shorter, it will take at least two years because the road to the hospital is windy and steep.

Eventually, a third section of the light rail between the northern Pisgat Ze’ev and Neveh Ya’acov neighborhoods will be submitted for approval. The final stage of the light rail plan is for a “university line” that will run between the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus and Givat Ram campuses.

Jerusalem transportation master plan spokesman Shmuel Elgrabli hailed the approval as an important step in Jerusalem’s “transportation revolution.” He added that they are in negotiations with operator CityPass over the additions. While it is unlikely that another company would take over administration of part of the line, the Jerusalem transportation master plan, the city and the Transportation Ministry have expressed extreme disapproval over CityPass’s handling of certain issues relating to the train, especially the thousands of passengers who were fined after purchasing faulty tickets.

Elgrabli added that the light rail would replace the plan to widen the road leading from Hadassah Ein Kerem to Kiryat Hayovel, because it can carry such a large number of people. Bike paths are a possibility along the light rail from Har Herzl to Kiryat Hayovel, though Elgrabli said the approval of the paths depends on the local council.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger