Cityfront: Payout for CityPass

The consortium will get NIS 150 million in compensation for light rail delays and changes.

jlem light rail 1 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
jlem light rail 1
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
CityPass, the international consortium building Jerusalem's long-delayed light rail transit system, notified the Finance and Transportation ministries this week that it had agreed to accept the NIS 100 million in compensation for lost revenue caused by the government's delays in building the tram line. The deal also includes NIS 50m. for engineering and design upgrades requested by the government, said light rail spokesman Shmuel Elgrabli. The light rail, or more accurately the 13.8-km. initial phase of the Red Line, has undergone countless revisions of planning and fitful construction over the last decade. Initially slated to begin operating in March 2006, it was delayed until January 5, 2009, and is now set to begin operations in September 2010. CityPass originally sought NIS 300m. to NIS 400m. in compensation for the anticipated loss of revenue from the construction delays of the light rail, which it is building on a BOT (build-operate-transfer) basis, and which it will operate until 2036 when it will turn the project over to the government. With the new financing deal in place, construction will proceed full speed ahead, Elgrabli said. Notwithstanding the delays, the public is finally beginning to see the scale of the ambitious LRT. The asymmetrical pylon of the Bridge of Strings, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to allow the trams to sail over the perpetual traffic jam at the western entrance to the city, was topped off at 118 m. last month. Work is now under way to attach the 66 cables supporting the modern single-column suspension bridge, which give it a harp-like appearance. The first two of the 46 sleek tram cars have arrived from La Rochelle, France, and are currently being stored in Beersheba, said Elgrabli. Three more are due to arrive at Ashdod port shortly, he added. Those carriages will be placed on the bridge to allow engineers to fine-tune the tension before the support columns currently propping up the structure are removed. The City Pass consortium comprises three publicly traded Israeli companies: Ashtrom Properties Ltd., Polar Investments Ltd. and Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services Ltd., as well as two French companies, Alstom SA and Veolia Environnement SA.