Last part of Eilat railway gets approval

Southern District Committee for Planning and Building approves final leg of future railway, choosing an eastern corridor alternative.

February 13, 2013 03:14
2 minute read.
A hotel against a backdrop of mountains in Eilat

Eilat 260 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/ Nir Elias)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


The Southern District Committee for Planning and Building approved on Monday the final leg of the future Eilat railway, choosing an eastern corridor alternative proposed by the Transportation Ministry.

Deciding on the missing piece of the railway, which will travel at speeds between 220 and 260 kilometers per hour, the committee reviewed three routes from Dimona to Hatzeva – the eastern path of the Transportation Ministry and Israel National Roads Company, the western route of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) and a third central route.

The committee approved the eastern route due to its engineering feasibility, low cost, minimal safety risks, low environmental impact and an operational convenience that will allow for the use of many trains, the Interior Ministry said.

The decision comes about two months after the committee approved the two other sections of the train route – from Beersheba to Dimona and from Hatzeva to Eilat.

“The project will bring a blessing to the factories of the South, which account for a large and meaningful component of Israeli exports,” Transportation Minister Israel Katz said, noting that there would be significantly fewer large trucks on Road 90 once the train begins operating.

With a rail link to connect the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, the country will see a swifter passage of goods to both Europe and Asia and a resultant strengthening of international relations, Katz said. In addition, the rail will improve tourism to Eilat and significantly reduce air pollution levels, he added.

“For the project, a social contribution is of top priority for the 700,000 people living in southern Israel,” Katz said.

Work on the Eilat railway, which will involve six planning firms, will include a 240- km. passenger route and a 260- km. freight route, the Transportation Ministry said. In addition, the plans involve eight operational stations, four cargo terminals and five new passenger stations – in Dimona, Sapir, Ketura, Ramon and Eilat, Israel National Roads Company CEO Shai Baras explained.

In addition to shifting the 60-km. section between Dimona and Hatzeva southwest, the alternative proposed by the INPA called for digging tunnels that researchers said would leave the surface of the desert nature untouched. This option, the INPA stressed, would reduce the need for 50- meter-high ramparts to elevate the train line, land bridges and flattening of open spaces.

While the alternative supported by the INPA and the Environmental Protection Ministry has several environmental benefits, it also has many disadvantages, the Southern District Committee decided. The alternative would reduce the operational capacity of the train by 30 percent so that fewer trains would be able to travel, and would add huge financial costs and safety risks posed by more than 13 km. of tunneling, according to the Interior Ministry. Tunnels also face ventilation problems and risk obstruction, and require escape hatches, the office said.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Holland Park’s forest, north of Eilat.
August 11, 2014
Promising trend of prosecution for environmental crimes, officials say