Trains get green light to be electrified

Transportation Minister Israel Katz says it will significantly decrease pollution and "improve passenger services."

ISRAEL KATZ 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The National Infrastructure Committee approved on Monday night the electrification of country’s network of Israel Railways trains, a step that officials say will significantly decrease pollution and increase passenger comfort.
“The railway electrification project will improve passenger services and increase the level of reliability and accuracy of the train,” said Transportation Minister Israel Katz.
Electrifying the country’s trains is one of the Transportation Ministry’s top priorities, under the framework of a broader “Nativei Yisrael” project initiated by Katz, which aims to connect the country by rail from the Negev to the Galilee and from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat. In doing so, the train will be able to reduce social disparities as it shuttles people to and from from periphery with greater ease, Katz explained.
The entire electrification process will cost approximately NIS 11.2 billion, but will bring a welcome decrease in pollution and noise to the environment, the minister added.
The plan approved on Monday night involves the electrification of 420 km. worth of existing and planned rail lines, as well as the construction of transformer stations and a control system, according to the ministry.
A tender for the electrification infrastructure is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2014, the ministry added. For the time being, Israel Railways is assessing seven proposals that were submitted during a pre-qualification period, a process which will likely be completed next month, the ministry said.
Boaz Tzafrir, the CEO of Israel Railways, expressed satisfaction over Monday night’s approval, stressing that his company aims to lead the public transportation sector in Israel with the electrified trains.
“Our ability to move trains faster and longer will allow us to receive more passengers and transport them safely and in the shortest time from point to point,” Tzafrir said. “This means an increase in the number of passengers who choose the train – and as a result, fewer vehicles, fewer accidents and less pollution.”