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