High-speed Jerusalem railway link 'expected' to reach Tel Aviv this year

Originally due to open in 2008, Israel’s flagship infrastructure project has been plagued by repeated lengthy delays and soaring costs.

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March 18, 2019 02:05
1 minute read.
A bridge, part of the tracks of Israel's new high-speed rail line (September 23, 2018).

A bridge, part of the tracks of Israel's new high-speed rail line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is seen in the outskirts of Jerusalem (September 23, 2018). (photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)

 
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The severely delayed high-speed railway set to shuttle commuters from around the country to Jerusalem is “expected” to reach Tel Aviv’s Hagana Railway Station later this year, according to Israel Railways.

Originally due to open in 2008, Israel’s flagship infrastructure project has been plagued by repeated lengthy delays and soaring costs.

With electrification work still ongoing between Tel Aviv stations and Ben-Gurion Airport, it was decided to open the railway partially in September 2018 between the airport and Jerusalem's new Yitzhak Navon Railway Station.

While Israel Railways has been hesitant to publish a revised estimate concerning the completion of the electrification works, the company said on Sunday in a statement regarding a new spring train timetable that it “expects the train service to reach Tel Aviv Hagana” later this year.

The electric railway line, the first in Israel, has required the construction of nine bridges and five tunnels. When complete, the railway is expected to cost in the region of NIS 7 billion, more than double its original estimate.

When work is eventually concluded, trains are slated to reach a maximum speed of 160 km/h, and carry passengers between the two cities within approximately 28 minutes.

Until then, those wishing to travel by train from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv currently need to disembark at Ben-Gurion Airport and board a regular diesel-powered train. Approximately 900,000 passengers have traveled on the new line since its September opening.

“The recent period, characterized by the closure of segments for development work and the electrification of the tracks, has been challenging for our passengers and employees,” Israel Railways said in a statement. “Today, the development and electrification work is continuing in Tel Aviv and other areas... We guarantee that your patience will pay off, and bring a faster, greener, safer and more efficient train, from many more places to many more destinations and for a lot more passengers.”

The new timetable, due to take effect on March 29, will see an extension of the Jerusalem-Ben-Gurion Airport route’s operating hours.

On weekdays, trains will run until 9:30 p.m. rather than 7:30 p.m. at its current frequency of two trains per hour in each direction.

In addition, five additional trains will operate on Saturday evenings, running once per hour in each direction.

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