Jerusalem Metro preliminary planning tender issued

Light rail in Downtown Jerusalem credit: Shutterstock
Light rail in Downtown Jerusalem credit: Shutterstock

Jerusalem Municipality and the Ministry of Transport see the city's light rail network reaching capacity by 2030, making it necessary to expand public transport.

The transport master plan team, which oversees construction of transport infrastructure in Jerusalem, published a tender today for preliminary planning and a feasibility study for metro lines in Israel's capital. The tender has been issued after Jerusalem Municipality and the Ministry of Transport see the city's light rail network reaching capacity by 2030, making it necessary to expand public transport.

There is currently no planning and budgetary certainty for the construction of a metro in Jerusalem, and if it is approved and budgeted, construction will only start in 2040-2050. Estimates are that the cost of the project will amount to tens of billions of shekels.

Over the past year, the Planning Administration has led comprehensive work on development directions of Jerusalem by 2050, with the city's population by the predicted to be about 1.8 million. Cars, buses and the light rail network will not meet expected demand. At the same time, the Ministry of Transport, through the transport master plan team, completed a strategic study concluding that 2-3 underground metro lines will be needed in Jerusalem that will coordinate with the light rail network in the.

Israeli urban planning company Madlan CEO Tal Kopel tells "Globes," "Jerusalem's population continues to grow, and recently surpassed one million residents. As time goes passes, the city is crowded, and the urban infrastructure is no longer keeping pace. The metro plan is expected to help the city continue to grow and allow quick and convenient transport around it, as a complementary response to the network of light rail lines that is currently being built throughout the city. However, it must be remembered that establishing a metro network is very complicated, and all the more so in an ancient and conflict-ridden city like Jerusalem. This is a complex project, and even if it is approved and built, it will take many years before we see it operating."

Budgetary uncertainty

The final date for submitting bids for the tender is the end of August, and implementing the work will take place over 25 months, so its conclusions are expected to be ready towards the end of 2026. After this tender, another long process is expected that will include more precise planning, and the construction process itself.

The results of the initial planning will include feasibility reports for the building the network and preliminary planning for four to six alternatives, while referring to where the Metro can be underground and above ground, similar to the Metro planned in Gush Dan. Also, initial planning will include the proposed location of stations and entrances, the type the trains, the location of the depots (train maintenance and storage facilities), and integration with the existing transport systems in the city, including light rail stations and Israel Railways, with the railway line to Jerusalem planned to be extended to the Khan complex by the old railway station..

The transport corridors through which the metro lines will pass (which appear on the map), were determined within the strategic plan drawn up by the Ministry of Transport for Jerusalem in 2050, in accordance with expected demand. The first line will be planned from southeast Jerusalem to Pisgat Ze'ev in the north; and the second line from southwest Jerusalem to the Old City, with two alternatives for extensions to East Jerusalem. Options include two to three stations through which both lines pass at the entrance to the city, and in the government precinct.

The project will cost an estimated tens of billions of shekels. A more precise amount is not yet known as it depends on the number of stations that will be planned, the way the system is built (above-ground or underground, which increases the cost), the location of the depot and more. The cost also depends on the financing method - public or with the participation of the private sector. In Gush Dan, where the metro planning is much more advanced and is nearing implementation, the estimated cost of the three planned lines is at least NIS 150 billion. Half of this amount will be from the state budget and half through income from land improvement, value enhancement and various taxes.

Unlike the planning and budgetary certainty in Gush Dan, in Jerusalem there is neither planning nor budgetary certainty, nor is it clear whether there will be a budgetary source and the willingness of government ministries to carry out such a huge project. However, it is possible that in view of the rate of population growth, the high reliance of Jerusalem's residents on public transport compared with other metropolitan regions in Israel, and the massive scale of construction, there will be a real need that will leave no other choice.

"A critical crossroads"

In 2011 the Jerusalem light rail above ground Red Line began operating. The Green Line, which is currently under construction, is due to begin operating next year and the Blue Line in 2030. These lines in Jerusalem will not be operated as in Gush Dan where each light rail line will operate independently.

The light rail system in Jerusalem will be fundamentally different from the Metro because it will mainly run above ground, is slower and is much smaller. Stations are also closer to each other than those of the planned Metro.

Planning Administration director general Rafi Elmaliach said, "Jerusalem is at a critical crossroads, and the planning decisions we make today will determine its future for generations to come. That's why the Planning Administration has promoted the process of an urban review, which will be the basis for the design of the Metro network that will change the face of the city, make it accessible to its residents and help cope with the challenges of the future."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on July 1, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Light rail in Downtown Jerusalem credit: Shutterstock
Light rail in Downtown Jerusalem credit: Shutterstock
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