The Northern District Planning and Building Commission has deposited for objections the construction plans for the railway between Karmiel in the Western Galilee and Kiryat Shmona in the Upper Galilee. The plan has been drawn up by Neitvei Israel - The National Transport Infrastructure Co.
The extension of the Haifa-Karmiel line will have new stations at the industrial zone east of Karmiel, TzaHar (serving Tzfat, Hatzor Haglilit and Rosh Pina) and Kiryat Shmona.
While it is normal in Europe for railway stations to be built in city and town centers, often because they were built decades and even well over a century ago, Israel Railways stations are often on the edge of cities. The Tzahar station is planned outside of the municipal boundaries of the three cities that it will serve and the Kiryat Shmona station will be on the edge of the city with a car park for 950 vehicles. In other words the stations will only be best accessible for people with cars or by bus, who might be tempted to remain in their cars or stay on the bus for their entire journey.
Kiryat Shmona Mayor Avichai Stern defended the decision to build the railway station away from the city center. He said that there is a strategic plan to build an office park around the future railway station. "The city center is not defined because history decided it was the center but by future development."
Merhav Movement for Israeli Urbanism CEO Ela Alexandri takes issue with this statement. "We continue to build station in places that it is easy to build and not in the right places in the city center. A station on the edge of the city creates a cemetery for cars and does damage for decades, while wasting land and money.
Israel Union fort Environmental Defense (Adam Teva VDin) planned Yael Dori slams the plan for only serving Jewish towns while not stopping at the Arab towns that it passes by. Promoting fast and efficient buses or a light rail could be a better solution, she adds.
Prof. Eran Feitelson of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Department of Geography says that the entire project is unnecessary. "We are talking about a city of 26,000 and a train that could be replaced by quality public transport." He also points out that the train might not only bring people to Kiryat Shmona but also make it easier for its residents to find jobs elsewhere.
The Ministry of Transport said, "Kiryat Shmona station was planned as an urban space promoted by the Israel Land Authority in order to preserve the environmental assets including the KKL Park in the heart of the city. As we are talking about a regional station, its location will allow convenient accessfor all the regions settlements. The TzaHar station is located as part of the new masterplan for Hatzor Haglilit by a junction which will allow convenient and efficient access to the settlements on the Golan Heights and other settlements."
Netivei Israel said, "All the stations will be built with the future strategic vision of developing and building the stations combined with commercial and office space and housing."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 27, 2022.
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.