Israel's government views
railways as a central mean of mass transport which is both efficient and
environmentally prudent. The train is also viewed as a means for reinforcing
the connection between metropolitan centers and the periphery, improving
standards of living, providing employment opportunities, increasing commuter
mobility, protecting the environment and providing sustainable development.
After many years of stagnation and a steady decline in passenger volume, Israel
Railways has begun actively working towards bridging the wide gap between
Israel and other developed countries in the use of rail travel. Since the mid
1990s, passenger volume has grown rapidly.
:- In an effort to realize the immense
potential inherent in the development of the rail system, both in terms of
passengers and freight, the government decided in 2001 to transform the Railway
Authority into a governmental company. This step facilitated the implementation
of organizational efficiency measures. The organizational change was
accompanied by a government decision to invest $7 billion in a multi-year
program, to be implemented by 2016, to establish a rail connection between all
major and medium-sized Israeli cities.
:- In the 25-year span between 1990
and 2015, heavy rail passenger traffic grew over 20-times. Moreover, with
several large-scale railway infrastructure projects still underway and more
planned in the future, the growth in passenger numbers is expected to continue.
following table shows a continuous trends of growth in passengers traffic since
The government's vision, as embodied in the
multi-year development program, was to connect by rail the four major
metropolitan areas (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beer Sheva) and establish a
suburban rail network in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Other major projects
in the program include upgrading of the signaling system and initial steps for
electrification of the network.
In February 2010, this
program was supplemented with an additional $5 billion program which aims to
connect Haifa to Beit She'an and Acre to Carmiel at a total cost of nearly $2
billion and to convert the railway system from diesel locomotives to electric
trains while renewing the rolling stock at a cost of about $3 billion.
Following is a look at some
of the major projects:
• The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem
Express Line: The flagship project for coming years is the Express Line
(A1) between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, which will connect Israel's two main
centers with a journey time of 28 minutes. The route is only 56 km (35 miles)
long but a major part of it (20 km or 12.5 miles) runs through hills and
mountains, requiring the construction of tunnels as well as the construction of
a central station in Jerusalem 80 meters (260 feet) underground. The first
section, between Tel Aviv and Modi'in, was completed in 2008. The section
between Modi'in and Jerusalem is expected to be completed and operational in
2016. The line is planned to carry 6-7 million passengers a year.
• The Eilat Railway (in
planning): The city of Eilat lies at the southernmost tip of Israel and is
a major tourist destination. Eilat is also the southern gateway to Israel,
acting as the port of entry for goods from Southeast Asia, Africa and
Australia. Connecting Eilat by rail to the center of the country is expected to
significantly benefit international trade, tourism and the development of
Israel's southern region. The project plan will be completed by 2016.
• The Eastern Railway
Line (in planning): The planned Eastern Railway Line is located alongside
Road 6 - the Cross Israel Highway. The line will run from Lod to Hadera and
will complement the Coastal Line. It will be used to carry freight and
passengers. The Eastern Railway Line is a strategic project due to its
potential to incorporate an inland port, which will serve to transfer freight
to and from the Haifa and Ashdod seaports. The estimated cost of the project is
$1 billion and it is expected to be built in cooperation with the private sector