Jerusalem light rail tender underway

Jerusalem light rail Photo: Shutterstock ASAP Creative

The project for extending the capital's light rail system is estimated at $9 billion, making it the largest-ever PPP project in Israel.

The joint ministerial tenders committee of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Transport, and the Jerusalem municipality, headed by Deputy Accountant General Nehemiah Kind, is scheduled to publish the tender documents for the JNET Jerusalem light rail project today. The project will utilize the public-private partnership (PPP) method.

The estimated $9 billion project will be the largest-ever PPP project in Israel. It includes construction of 27 kilometers of railway tracks, 50 new railway stations, the design and production of 100 railway carriages, and construction of a central depot in the Kiryat HaMemshala area with a marshaling yard for rolling stock, a garage, a control center, and offices. The tender process for the project will have a mechanism for encouraging the involvement of Israeli and international financial concerns at the tender stage.

The preselection stage was concluded three months ago, with seven consortia composed of Israeli and international companies specializing in railway tracks, rolling stock, integration, systems, operation, and maintenance taking part.

Participation by one of the consortia is in doubt. Shikun & Binui Holdings Ltd. (TASE: SKBN), which filed papers in the tender as part of a consortium of five companies, was disqualified by the tenders committee on the grounds that it involves one of the most highly concentrated groups in Israel. Now that Shari Arison has sold all of her holdings in the company, however, it is likely to return to the tender and gain approval.

The project includes an extension of the existing Red Line to Hadassh Ein Kerem Medical Center in the south and Neve Yaakov in the north and construction of infrastructure for the Green Line from Mount Scopus to Malcha and Gilo, with branches going to Givat Ram and Givat Shaul. The project also includes operation of the JNET network for at least 15 years and 25 years of maintenance during which five railway lines will be gradually operated, with the peak coming in 2025. The number of passengers at that time is projected to be 500,000 a day.

In its announcement, the Ministry of Finance stated, "In order to provide relief to residents of the city and business owners during the franchise holder's work, the state and the Jerusalem municipality are doing comprehensive preparatory work through Moriah Jerusalem Development Corporation for laying the tracks; this work is already proceeding at full speed. At the same time, the tenders committee is working hard to complete the tender process as soon as possible and meet the stipulated timetable, while complying with the Jerusalem masterplan for transportation."

Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon said, "As part of the policy of reducing the cost of living and enhancing growth, the government is investing large resources in development of public transport and encouraging its use. The JNET network is expected to substantially relieve traffic jams and air pollution in the city and to bring hundreds of thousands of passengers to use public transport as their main means of travel. This project is being added to the list of PPP projects of national importance being promoted by the Accountant General at this time in the framework of the 2030 infrastructure plan. The 2030 infrastructure plan being promoted in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources includes the desalination facility in Sorek, Highway 16, the high-speed lanes in the Greater Tel Aviv area, the solar fields in Ashelim and Dimona, and other projects."

Minister of Transport and Intelligence Yisrael Katz said, "The jump in the number of light railway passengers in recent years and the continual improvement in passenger service on the light rail indicates success in changing the travel habits of many private vehicle users. The great success of the light rail in Jerusalem has led the Ministry of Transport to extend it line to all parts of the city from Neve Yaakov, Mount Scopus, and Ramot in the north to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center, Gilo, and Malcha in the south. The network of new rail lines will make Jerusalem the city with the fastest, most comfortable, and most advanced transportation in Israel."

A tender for construction, operation, and maintenance of the Jerusalem light rail Blue Line is scheduled to get underway in 2019. This 20-kilometer line will stretch from Ramot in the north to Malcha in the south. The Greater Tel Aviv Green and Purple light railway lines will be 60 kilometers long.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 14, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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Jerusalem light rail Photo: Shutterstock ASAP Creative
Jerusalem light rail Photo: Shutterstock ASAP Creative
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