Israel Railways VP infrastructure development Reuven Kogan today presented Israel Railways' strategic plan for the railway until 2040. The plan was sent to the minister of transport for his comments, after which it will go to the cabinet for approval. The cost of the plan is NIS 123.6 billion, of which NIS 94.8 billion will be invested in railway tracks, stations, and cargo terminals; NIS 19.2 billion in the mobile fleet, and NIS 9.6 billion in maintenance sites. A joint steering committee of Israel Railways and the Ministries of Finance and Transport formulated the plan.
Kogan spoke at a conference of the Israel Railways development division today at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv. According to him, the heart of the plan is increasing the railway's share of public transportation from 3% to 8% in 2040 by raising the annual number of journeys from 59.6 million to 306 million.
One of the main visions of the plan is connecting Israel's four main metropolises with a completely electrical, faster, and denser network, including express trains traveling at 250 kilometers an hour. In order to achieve this, the number of railway stations will be increased from 68 to 120, and the length of track will grow from 1,230 kilometers at present to 2,572 kilometers in 2040.
Most of the new tracks will be laid parallel to existing tracks, so that there will be four railway tracks between Haifa and Netanya and six between Netanya and the Hagana railway station in Tel Aviv, two of which will be underground between Shefayim and the Hagana station. There will also be four tracks between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, between Lod and Beer Sheva, and between Ashdod and Ashkelon. Some of the new stations under the plan will be in Shefayim, Tira, Elad, and Gan Raveh.
Simultaneously with the investment in railway tracks, the number of locomotives will be increased from 139 at present to 511 in 2040. The advanced infrastructure is designed to make it possible to increase the number of trains traveling on the central lines at peak hours from 50 to 128, which will shorten the average waiting time for a train from 12 minutes in 2020 to three minutes in 2040. Of the 128 trains leaving every hour, 96 will travel at 160 kilometers an hour and 32 at 250 kilometers an hour.
The plan also includes railway lines to Eilat and Kiryat Shmona, but the budget for these projects has not yet been allocated. Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz, who spoke at the conference, took note of this, emphasizing that the railway to Kiryat Shmona is not in doubt. "It is certain that there will be a line to Kiryat Shmona; we are already planning it," he said.
All of this involves journeys of more than 50 kilometers on public transportation. The plan sets a target of increasing the share of the railway from 10% to 40%. Another target is increasing access to Tel Aviv from the outlying areas by sharply reducing the time it takes to make the journey by railway.
Travel times between the major cities are slated to become shorter between 2020 and 2040: from 110 minutes to 65 minutes between Haifa and Jerusalem, from 104 minutes to 51 minutes between Beer Sheva and Jerusalem, from 146 minutes to 91 minutes between Beer Sheva and Haifa, from 77 minutes to 47 minutes between Beer Sheva and Tel Aviv, and from 54 minutes to 35 minutes between Haifa and Tel Aviv. Travel time between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv is scheduled to reach 30 minutes next year, and to remain at that time until 2040. The planned line between Tel Aviv and Eilat will take 160 minutes, and the planned line between Tel Aviv and Kiryat Shmona will take 101 minutes.
Another aspect of the plan is cargo, which is due to grow with the extension of the railway network. According to Kogan, the target is to increase the number of cargo trains from 104 at present to 224 in 2040, and the tonnage carried from 53,000 tons a day at present to 143,000 tons a day in 2040. The number of cargo terminals will be increased from 19 to 32.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on June 8, 2017
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