J'lem light rail faces new hurdles before opening

Operator, CityPass consortium insists Jerusalem rail will be ready for "‘partial operation" by deadline.

Jerusalem light rail 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem light rail 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
In another setback for Jerusalem’s transportation hopes, the Knesset delayed the implementation of a law that regulates light rail systems, which was supposed to be a requirement before the new train begins operating. It is still scheduled to begin moving passengers on Friday.
The CityPass consortium that built and will run the system denied that the delayed law would have any effect on operations.
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The light rail is still missing a major safety permit – the Independent Safety Assessment – which is awarded by an international body. The train cannot carry passengers without it.
Gitit Sheinen, the legal adviser to CityPass, told the Knesset Economics Committee that the company “was doing everything possible, within the timeframe, to have limited operation at the end of the week.”
Sources said the law, initiated by the Transportation Ministry, is meant to set regulations for all future light rails across the country. It is supposed to go into effect on September 14 and will have little or no impact on the capital’s light rail, the sources said.
Arbitration between the Jerusalem Municipality, the Transportation Ministry and CityPass will continue this week. CityPass faces a hefty fine if it does not begin partial operation of the train on Friday, though the amount has yet to be determined.
Officials are still unsure if the train will function on a limited basis if it opens on Friday. In April, it was supposed to be partially operational along Jaffa Road for a symbolic fee, but that didn’t happen.