J’lem light rail launch postponed due to safety issues

Partial opening delayed for 10 days due to a decision from the int'l safety team that the control system was not ready.

Jerusalem light rail 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem light rail 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Sunday’s scheduled launch of the Jerusalem light rail’s partial opening was postponed for roughly 10 days due to a decision from the international safety team that the control system was not ready, said the Jerusalem Transportation Management Team.
“We waited already 10 years, we can wait another 10 days,” said Shmuel Elgrably, spokesman for the JTMT.
As long as the full launch takes place as scheduled in August, Elgrably said the delay should not be particularly consequential – although he noted that it would have been convenient to have the rail available before Pessah.
“It’s more important to have a good safety system, and something that works. If the international team thinks that it’s not ready, then we can wait a few more days,” he said.
Once the CityPass control system is considered safe by the international group (a German engineering firm, TUV AG), the city will open a segment of the rail from the Old City’s Damascus Gate to the Central Bus Station, in which passengers will be able to ride for a shekel or two.
The city will also be dispersing gift “rav-kav” cards for the rail to interested passengers, which will already have a few shekels on them, as part of the “huge effort to get people to come and use the system,” he said.
“It will be free of charge for the children and the elderly people,” Elgrably added. “Our goal is to give the people the opportunity to learn and know about the system.”
On both Remembrance Day and Independence Day, all passengers will be able to ride for free so that they can easily make the trip to Mount Herzl for memorial services and celebrations, Elgrably said.
The Jerusalem team is hoping the launch date for the entire light rail system will still occur in the middle of August as planned, so that city residents have an opportunity to get adjusted to it before schools are in session, Elgrably said.
In the meantime, the team began restructuring nine different city bus routes last week – the beginnings of an overhaul process that by summer will involve 50 bus lines – altering many that serve primarily haredi populations, and reducing bus congestion in the city center, according to Elgrably.
“We’re going to do it step by step,” he said. “What is very important to us is to keep the functioning date in August. We expect CityPass to put all its efforts into finishing the project, and Jerusalem’s people are really waiting for this moment, to see the end of the project.”