It’s here! At last! The light rail... kind of

2-km. night journey marks first trial ahead of 2011 opening.

light rail winter 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
light rail winter 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
After years of suffering from the construction of the light rail, on Wednesday evening Jerusalem residents could begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. CityPass, the company heading the construction and operation of the red line of the Jerusalem’s rapid transit system, drove a single carriage on a two kilometer journey for its first test-run of the tracks.
Surrounded by technicians and engineers from the company and the municipality, as well as a throng of onlooking residents, the train left its depot at the foot of the French Hill at nine thirty in the evening and made its way slowly, to the first station on the route, near Ammunition Hill.
The trial run marked the beginning of the testing and commissioning phase of the project. The tests are scheduled to take place over the course of a year and be completed by April 7th 2011, when the trains will commence commercial operation.
“This is a historic day for a project that has known many difficulties. The residents of Jerusalem deserve to enjoy this new transportation system that rose in the capital before any other city,” said Yair Maayan, director-general of the Jerusalem municipality. “We will demand from CityPass the highest levels quality and will not spare a single detail, but we think it would be good if it could shorten the schedules. It would be a fair gesture to the residents of the city who suffered so much during the construction.” During the course of the year every centimeter of the 28-kilometer long track will be inspected thoroughly and every one of the 46 trams will be tested on the track multiple times at different speeds and carrying different loads.
Motorists and pedestrians moving around the city will have to get used to sharing the streets with the trains. While in the beginning of the trial period the movement will be slow and local, as the months go by more and more trains will be riding on the tracks and at ever increasing speeds.
In the last 45 days of the testing phase, the system will operate fully, stopping at all the stops, receiving precedence at traffic lights and affecting the traffic, all without passengers.
“We are beginning to see the end. We will do everything so that the residents of Jerusalem receive a modern and efficient light rail like the ones that can be found in the finest cities in the world,” said CityPass CEO Yair Nave.
“We require a little more patience, and most of all, caution, from the residents during the testing and commissioning phase.”
CityPass was given an extension to delay commercial operations by eightmonths earlier this week when arbitrators ruled that it would not beable to complete the project in September, as was originally planned,because of state and municipal actions.