After more than six years of work, the new light rail in the center of the country completed its first test-run along the Red Line on Wednesday night. The two trains, operated by the NTA ‑ Metropolitan Mass Transit System, left the depot complex in Petah Tikva at 12:30 a.m., stopped on Jerusalem Boulevard and arrived at Bat Yam Stadium at 3:00 a.m. on a 24-kilometer route.
The night operation was accompanied by a ring of police security whose job was to prevent residents from approaching the train in a dangerous manner. But the late hour of the night did not stop many residents from pulling out their cellphones and sharing the historic moment. As part of the test drive, a number of components of the train were tested, including communications, signaling, electricity, the track, cameras, the carriages themselves, and propulsion and safety mechanisms.
"We made history today: We practically traveled from Petah Tikva to Bat Yam. For the first time, we opened the line from end to end with a perfect system in terms of electricity, cars and tracks," said NTA CEO Haim Glick, adding that "we still have a lot of systems coordination work ahead, but this is a historic day."
In the next phase, to take place in the coming days, the light rail will begin a series of test-runs in Bat Yam, and then in about two weeks on the streets of Jaffa. Becoming fully operational in about a year, this trip will become routine, with a train passing every 3.5 minutes at 24 elevated stations and ten underground stations, including the Allenby station, which has been dug to a depth of about 35 meters. Each train will be able to carry 500 passengers.
About three months ago, NTA started running light rail test-run trips for the first time. At the time, the section between Orlov and Shenkar streets in the city was chosen for the initial run, which was received with applause from the residents who stood around excitedly.
"Until now, all the excavations and this mess were just problems," shared one of the business owners located in the first section of the train. "From now, I'm starting to see the solution."