Railways: Travel from TA to Eilat in 2.5 hrs

May 12, 2011 03:08

Plan for rail link to Eilat remains shelved after Finance Ministry determines NIS 7 billion price tag not justified by anticipated daily passenger traffic of just a few hundred.

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israel railways train

train 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Israel Railways presented a ministerial committee on Wednesday with plans for a rail route to Eilat that the company says could bring travelers from Tel Aviv to the resort city in two-and-a-half hours.

The plan for a rail link to Eilat remains shelved after the Finance Ministry recently determined that its NIS 7 billion price tag is not justified by its anticipated daily passenger traffic of just a few hundred.

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The Transportation Ministry responded this week by announcing it would issue an international tender for private companies to build the rail line under a “build, operate, transfer” contract. The ministry said it had already received more than 70 offers from firms, many based in the Far East, eager to take on the project.

On Wednesday the national rail carrier showed ministers a draft version of its plan to shorten the route, which it hopes will further encourage authorities to rethink the project.

The new plan requires a tunnel to be dug near the Zin Stream.

The rail line would then link the mouth of the stream to Eilat, reducing estimated travel time by half an hour. Officials also asked the committee to allow a 230-kilometers per hour speed limit on the line, rather than the standard 160-kph limit.

Also at the meeting, Transportation Ministry officials asked ministers to include the rail line between Haifa and Beit She’an – set to be completed in 2016 – in a nationwide plan to convert railcars from diesel to electric power.

The line was conceived after the electrification plan’s announcement, leaving open the possibility that it could be operated based on traditional methods.

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