NTA: Tel Aviv light rail possible in 2020

The foreign companies which will build the Red Line also believe that it can be completed by 2020, if there are no more breakdowns or delays.

The Tel Aviv light rail's Red Line can be ready in 2020, says NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd., the government company responsible for building the line.

Two weeks ago, "Globes" broke the story that the project's auditor for the Ministry of Finance stated that the Red Line would not be ready before the fourth quarter of 2023, six years behind the 2017 date set by the government. In December 2011, the government handed the project over to NTA, following the nationalization of the project when franchisee Metro Transport Solutions (MTS) failed to meet franchise terms.

NTA now claims that 2017 was never a realistic target, saying "Somebody erred or misled the transport minister."

NTA cites as an example the three shafts for the tunnel boring machines for the light rail's subway lines. Work on the shafts has been ongoing for year at the Galei Gil parking lot by the City Tower Hotel in Ramat Gan, at the Herzl parking lot in south Tel Aviv, and at Em Hamoshava in Petah Tikva. "It was initially estimated that the shafts would be dug within 15 months, but it is now clear that the work will take twice as long," a top NTA executive told "Globes". He also estimates that the boxes for the subway stations will take at least 40 months to build, compared with the 24 months in the original plan.

Executives of the foreign companies which will build the Red Line also believe that it can be completed by 2020, on the condition that there are no more breakdowns or delays. One executive told "Globes" this week, "The underground section is the big problem. It will be possible to begin operating the aboveground sections of the line between Em Hamoshava to Geha Interchange, and between the Herzl parking lot and Bat Yam, in 2017."

NTA admits that it still lacks senior managers, but claims that there has been substantial progress in the past year. "In the past two years, we reached achievements that no one dreamed of," an executive told "Globes". "The early planning is almost complete, all the construction tenders are in the advanced stages, thorough mapping of the underground infrastructures has been done, permits have been obtained to pump the water, concessions under Article 149 of the Planning and Building Law have been obtained, and we've already begun preparations for the next line (the Green Line)."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 16, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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