More than a decade overdue, the high-speed railway connecting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is expected to welcome its first passengers next Saturday evening, December 21.While no official announcement has yet been made by Israel Railways, online schedules show the first direct train departing Tel Aviv’s Hahagana Station at 9:56 p.m., arriving at Jerusalem Yitzhak Navon Station 34 minutes later. The first direct train from Jerusalem will also leave at 9:56 p.m., arriving in Tel Aviv at 10:28 p.m. Trains travelling in both directions will run every 30 minutes from Sunday to Thursday, and stop at Ben-Gurion Airport en route to their final destination. Trains will operate from about 6:20 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. on weekdays, and two trains will run in each direction on Saturday evenings. A single ticket will cost NIS 22.While the 57 km.-long electrified railway link was first approved in June 2001 by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and originally scheduled to open in 2008, Israel’s flagship infrastructure project has been plagued by repeated and lengthy delays, missed deadlines, safety concerns and soaring costs.The project, which has required the construction of nine bridges and five tunnels, is estimated to cost a total of NIS 7 billion, more than double its original NIS 2.8b. estimate.In September 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and transportation minister Israel Katz inaugurated the partially completed railway from Jerusalem to Ben-Gurion. Since then, passengers opting to travel by rail between Israel’s two largest cities have been required to change trains at the airport.During the first few months of operations, passengers traveling on the line between Ben-Gurion and Jerusalem were faced with persistent malfunctions and breakdowns.Electrification work has commenced in recent weeks to connect Hahagana with Tel Aviv’s three other railway stations before ending at Herzliya. Teams from Israel Railways have already started carrying out necessary infrastructure work on the outskirts of Tel Aviv’s Hashalom and Savidor Central stations.