Katz pledges Jerusalem rail link will operate by Sept

Yisrael Katz  photo: Eyal Yitzhar

The transport minister told the Knesset State Control Committee that the high-speed Tel Aviv - Jerusalem railway would begin operating during the Sukkot holiday.

The Knesset State Control Committee, chaired by MK Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union), today held a meeting attended by Minister of Transport and Road Safety Yisrael Katz. The meeting reviewed the topics on its agenda, with an emphasis on public transportation. The committee also discussed failures in the Rav-Kav ticketing system cited by the State Comptroller in Report 68A in 2017.

Asked by Yachimovich about the delay in operating the high-speed rail from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Katz said, "The high-speed railway line to Jerusalem will begin commercial operation on the eve of the Sukkot holiday. Rides will be free on the intermediate days of the holiday. The plan was to begin partial operation of the line before Passover with a safety plan set by Israel Railways, but following discussions with the firefighters and the police, it was decided to act with great caution and delay the opening until Sukkot. It may have been possible to begin partial operation according to the original timetable, but instead of conducting a struggle that would have been popular, I decided to play it safe by delaying the opening."

Commenting on public transportation, Ministry of Transport and Road Safety director general Karen Turner said that compared with 3.8% population growth, use of public transportation grew 11% over the past year. "700,000 passengers use public transportation in Jerusalem daily, including 150,000 who use the light rail, but the level of service is still inadequate. Another operator will be introduced by the end of the year, and we see that wherever there is competition, service improves.

"Next Thursday, a pilot will begin in Jerusalem. The Rav-Kav cards will no longer be charged by bus drivers. This is a necessary step designed to improve service and relieve the burden on drivers. The cards can be charged through a large number of channels: an application, through the Internet, at 400 Casponet devices, using 90 CityPass charging stations, etc. We are authorizing more business owners to maintain charging stations. Any business that wants to keep a charging station and receive payment can do so, and schools, retirement homes, and community centers can have them and earn money. It is important to emphasize that in the first stage, someone getting on a bus who has not charged his Rav-Kav card can buy a free one-day pass; no one will be thrown off the bus. The incentive to charge the card remotely does not exist at present. Passengers charging the card through the driver are delaying other passengers and keeping the driver off the road." Turner concluded by saying that her ministry was taking measures to continue the introduction of new technological means. In the not-too-distant future, physical contact will no longer be necessary to make payment, and payment in retrospect would be possible, in addition to charging the card in advance.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on March 5, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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Yisrael Katz  photo: Eyal Yitzhar
Yisrael Katz photo: Eyal Yitzhar
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