The Ministerial Committee for Internal Matters today approved by a majority of five ministers the route of the railway to Eilat. The budgetary cost estimate for the project was not published.
Minister of Environmental Protection Amir Peretz opposed the project on the grounds of the harm it would do the environment but his objections were rejected. The cabinet will now be required to approve removing areas through which the tracks are laid from nature reserves.
At the same time Prime Minister's Office director general Harel Locker is pushing forward a proposal to finance the project as part of an agreement between governments rather than as a tender in the regular way. The Chinese, French and Spanish governments are interested in the project.
According to the plan being promoted by Netivei Israel (formerly the National Roads Company and before that the Public Works Authority), the Tel Aviv Eilat line will be twin-track with the trains covering the 350 kilometer distance at 250 kilometers per hour.
The first 90 kilometer section of the line from Tel Aviv to Beersheva is already completed. The second 35 kilometer section to Dimona requires a second line. The third 65 kilometer section from Dimona to Hatzeva will be especially difficult with a doubling of the existing track to Nahal Zin and 9.2 kilometers of tunnels to reach the Arava. The fourth 160 kilometer section will run to the northern entrance to Eilat where the new port channel will be built. The line will not reach the current port. In addition to the tunnels the route will require 63 bridges extending over 4.5 kilometers.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 6, 2013
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013