(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The train system’s electrification plan was kicked up a notch on Sunday when Israel Railways announced plans to purchase electric-capable railcars at a total cost of almost NIS 1.5 billion over the next few years.
First, Israel Railways announced its purchase of 60 passenger cars from Canadian plane and train manufacturer Bombardier for NIS 456 million. The cars will be able to work with the current diesel- powered train system as well as with the upcoming electric system that is planned to be up and running by 2020.
In the past six years, they said, they have purchased 222 railcars, but have seen demand rise with the addition of train lines and stations. The cars are expected to arrive between 2017 and the first half of 2018.
The company also announced the start of bidding for a NIS 1b. tender for some 330 double-decker passenger railcars for the electric system, as well as 60 electric motorcars, which pull the passenger cars and will be unique in that they do not require a large locomotive at the front in order to run. Once the new trains are on the tracks, the new cars will have the capacity to seat about 33,000 passengers, which Israel Railways said currently requires 520 passenger cars. The first new trains are expected to arrive in Israel in 2019. The company said that the winner of the tender will be announced in autumn 2016.
In February, Transportation Minister Israel Katz approved a landmark NIS 28.3b. fouryear budget for the project to totally revamp the train system – the largest amount ever allocated to Israel Railways.
Of this, NIS 12b. is being allocated to convert the system to run on electricity instead of diesel, with the company noting that the electric system would not only be better for the environment, but also be able to run faster and accommodate more passengers.
Overhauls to the train system will already be seen this year when the Emek Line to Beit She’an is opened. It will include new stations in Kfar Yehoshua, Kfar Baruch, Afula and Beit She’an. A new Sapir station, near the Netanya industrial zone, is also expected to open in 2016.
Also on Sunday, Israel Railways announced that an updated train schedule came into effect, with trains arriving more often at certain stations.
On weekdays, there will now be trains every 30 minutes at the Hadera, Caesarea-Pardess Hana and Binyamina stations.
From Holon to Bat Yam-Komemiyut on the Red Line, trains will arrive at all stations along the way every 15 minutes. On the same line, but due south, from Yavne-West to Beersheba Center, trains will now arrive every half hour. An additional express train from Tel Aviv to Hadera will be added in the evening.
Beginning March 25, the train schedules will adopt Daylight Savings Time. Train service on Fridays will run until 6 p.m. and begin again on Saturday at 8:30 p.m.