Israel is on track towards revolutionizing the country’s transportation with a new high speed train that runs from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. The train will not only decrease travel time but it will also help boost the economy and reduce pollution. It currently takes an average of 78 minutes to travel from Jerusalem to Tel-Aviv, but according to ministry spokeswoman Batsheva Segev the new train will reduce travel time to just 28 minutes. This is one of the Israel’s biggest projects, costing the country around 1.8 billion dollars, and has been in the works for over 10 years. The new train system will consist of 5 tunnels, 8 bridges, and 57 kilometers of tracks. The train system will include Israel’s longest bridge, longest tunnel, and highest bridge. Segev said “This is beyond a transportation revolution, it will improve the economy, the environment, and it’s fast. It will allow people to live in Jerusalem and work in Tel Aviv, and help bring government workers and entrepreneurs to the capital with ease to improve the economy.” The construction of the line is planned to conclude by the end of 2017 and begin running in time for Passover of 2018.
The trains will carry up to 4,000 passengers an hour. The trains will run six days a week and will be closed on Shabbat. The train will reduce commute times because there will be no traffic to contend with. There will be up to four trains running an hour during peak times which should substantially shorten commute times. The main station will be close to the central bus station of Jerusalem and will improve the public transportation.
Because people will be able to live in Tel-Aviv and make the fast commute to the capital more companies will be encouraged to open in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the train “will turn Jerusalem into the most accessible city in Israel.” He said the train will bring people to Jerusalem’s new business district and help improve the economy.
Yisrael Katz, the transportation minister of Israel, explained that the train’s construction was delayed because of “unforeseen construction considerations, costs and bureaucratic hurdles.” The project was delayed because of the unpredicted difficulty of building the tunnels, all of which are fortified with concrete. Additionally, environmental activists postponed construction because of concerns with potential damage to valleys and hills that surround Jerusalem.
Although Katz cited the many difficulties the plan has faced, he also stressed that “this is an amazing project that is being executed by very high international standards.” At this point, the construction is underway and Israel is optimistic about this revolutionary change. As Katz put it, “after long years of delays, and dealing with debilitating regulation, we can finally see the light at the end of the train’s tunnel.”