Cross Israel Highway company has selected a planning company for the Haifa-Nazareth light railway. A partnership of Spanish company Ineco and Israeli company Yenon Research and Design won the tender and will receive NIS 320 million for planning out of the total NIS 7 billion budget for the project.
The Haifa-Nazareth is a new type of railway in Israel, called a tram-train - a combination of light and heavy rail. It will operate like a light rail in Nazareth and Nazareth Illit, with stations close to one another. Upon leaving Nazareth and Nazareth Illit in the direction of Haifa, it will function as a suburban train, reaching speeds of 80-100 kilometers an hour until reaching its final stop, the Lev Hamifratz railway station in Haifa. There will be 19 stops along the way, including Reineh, Shfaram, and Kiryat Ata. The route will be 41 kilometers long, with park and ride parking lots, a maintenance area for railway carriages, and a control center built along the way. 32 trains will operate on the route with a maximum frequency of four trains an hour. Tenders for construction of the railway will be issued in 2021, with the railway scheduled to begin operations in 2027. The projected daily number of passengers is 100,000 a day.
Project delayed by disputes
Four groups competed in the planning tender. Under the tender terms, they were composed of local and international companies. The groups were French company Egis and Amy-Metom Engineers and Consultants, German company DB with Tedem Civil Engineering, and Chinese company Beijing Urban with Gronner DEL Engineers, plus the winning group.
The project was delayed for many years, mainly by disputes about the type of railway that should be built: light or heavy rail. Haifa municipal company Yefe-Nof Transportation, Infrastructure Constructions managed the project, before it was given to Cross Israel Highway two years ago.
Cross Israel Highway has published three international tenders to date for the project: a management tender, a planning tender, and an engineering oversight tender. Dana Engineering won the management tender, together with Spanish company IDOM, and entered the project a month ago. Cross Israel Highway will soon announce the winning oversight company.
Astonishingly, Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz mentioned only the city of Nazareth Illit, not Nazareth, which is larger and has an Arab majority, in his speech about the project: "In a few years, all residents of Nazareth Illit and the surrounding area will be able to board the light rail in their neighborhood and travel to the Mifratz center in Haifa comfortably and at high speed, and from there directly to Tel Aviv and the rest of Israel. The venture will facilitate a direct and rapid connection between metropolitan Haifa and Lower Galilee, and significantly increase the number of public transportation users." The Ministry of Transport said that Nazareth was omitted from the quote by mistake, but similar quotes about the project were published in the past in notices by the ministry.
Cross Israel Highway chairperson Hussam Bishara said, "This is a difficult project, the first of its kind in Israel, which will revolutionize transportation in the north."
Cross Israel Highway CEO Dan Shenbach said, "Selecting the leading professional team is an important milestone in moving the project forward. We now immediately enter the stage of completing planning, after which we will move to the construction stage. Cross Israel Highway has extensive knowledge and experience in large and complex franchise projects that enable us to manage the project efficiently and with no compromises on quality, while scrupulously meeting the timetable."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 24, 2019
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