The Jerusalem - Tel Aviv fast rail link will begin operating on March 30, on the eve of the Passover holiday, Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz has announced. The electrified trains will travel up to 160 kilometers per hour and complete the 56 kilometer journey between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv via Ben Gurion airport in just 28 minutes.
In the first experimental stage, only one track will be used with trains running every half an hour in each direction. Passengers presenting a Rav-Kav multi-ride public transport card will be able to travel free for the first three months.
In the second stage, after a running-in period of several months, both tracks will operate and there will be trains in each direction every 20 minutes. In the future, the link will be able to operate six trains per hour in each direction at peak times. The project, which cost NIS 7 billion to complete, is expected to carry 4 million passengers annually.
The new 80 meter-deep station at Binyanei Ha'ooma in Jerusalem will form part of the country's biggest public transport complexes, linking to the city's central bus station for inter-city routes, light rail and urban bus services. The station will have four platforms, each 300 meters long and it will also serve as a bomb shelter capable of withstanding a nuclear attack.
Three elevators capable of holding 35 people will operate as well as escalators. The 70,000 square meter station will include parking spaces for 1,200 cars. The station will have a capacity of 4,000 passengers.
Next week, Katz will undertake a trial journey on a section of the line. He said, "When I assumed the job, I instructed Ministry of Transport and Israel Railways staff to work immediately to push forward with the fast rail link to Jerusalem, after four years in which the project was stuck. During Passover we will let all of the people of Israel to come up en masse to Jerusalem on the fast train from Tel Aviv. We are connecting and strengthening Jerusalem, the capital, and connecting up to Jerusalem's history."
Katz's announcement that the line will open on schedule contradicts a recent report by the State Comptroller predicting a delay in opening the line because of the slow pace of electrification of the line. However, until permanent electrification work is completed, temporary transformers will be used.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 10, 2018
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