light rail replace

Dogged by repeated delays and derailments, the long-planned Jerusalem light rail project will be running in two-and-a-half years, Yair Ma'ayan, director-general of the Jerusalem Municipality, said. The newly revised timetable will see the controversial city rail system in service by April 2010, he added. The NIS 4.2 billion project, which is being jointly funded by the Transportation Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality, is the first of its kind in Israel. Last year, officials confirmed that Jerusalem's long-awaited light rail project, which was previously set to begin running in 2009, had temporarily stalled due to a lack of manpower and first-time construction problems. The construction problems included incorrect tracking installed on the line on a main thoroughfare near the Mount Herzl military cemetery, which has since been ripped out and redone. Ma'ayan told The Jerusalem Post that according to a "compromise agreement" being considered between the two sides the state would pay the international conglomerate carrying out the project NIS 100 million for the delays in the work - which they blamed on the city and the state - instead of the NIS 400 million for which the builders were asking. But a Finance Ministry spokesman said Tuesday that no agreement had been reached yet over the fines. Previously, officials had said that the state could fine the City-Pass conglomerate for the delay in the work. According to a new agreement on the timeline and infrastructure reached between the two sides, construction work on laying the tracks on Jaffa Road, which will begin in a month and a half, will be completed in a year and half instead of two years, the city said. The work is expected to cause major traffic jams in downtown Jerusalem. In an effort to lessen the difficulties of residents who need to get to the city center during the scheduled 18-month-long construction work, shuttles will operate from a car park at the International Convention Center to the city center, the city said. When it finally gets off the ground, the revolutionary transportation project is meant to ease traffic congestion, improve access to and reduce smog in the city center. The inaugural line, the nearly 14 kilometer "red line," will run from the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev to Mount Herzl via the city center, with 23 stops along the way. Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat has called for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry into the repeated delays in the city's light rail project.