Senior transportation industry sources see a high probability of the construction of the Metro stations planned for the north of the Gush Dan (Greater Tel Aviv) metropolis being postponed, or even cancelled altogether. Following the examination of objections by residents and local authorities in the area to the location of the planned Metro depot, it appears that the recommendation to the National Infrastructures Commission will be to review the plan, without deciding on an alternative. This, the sources say, is likely to mean re-planning of the Metro, which is supposed to reach Ramat Hasharon, Herzliya, Ra’anana, Hod Hasharon, and Kfar Sava. This in turn could lead to delay in construction, and, in the event that a different plan would exceed the budget, outright cancellation.
The Gush Dan Metro will run through 24 local authorities. Three lines will be constructed, and the project is being advanced through five plans in the planning institutions. The M1 line running from north to south was split into three sections, because of its length. Eighteen months ago, the Ministry of Transport decided to submit separately the northern section of the M1 line, which will run from Glilot northwards in two branches: one to Hod Hasharon and Kfar Sava, and the other to Herzliya and Ra’anana. This was because of objections and political pressure on the planners from local authorities and some residents of the area.
The two most substantial objections to this line came from the Kfar Sava municipality, concerning the location of the depot, and from Ra’anana, where there were objections to the route of the line under one neighborhood. Thirteen other possible routes were examined for cost, economic viability, statutory considerations, and ecological corridors, but no better option was found. Meanwhile, government ministries repelled criticism of the plan, as a researcher appointed by the planning institutions, as is customary in planning procedures of this kind, was examining the objections filed against it.
The researcher is due to file her report next month. Sources familiar with the project warn that it will probably recommend examining additional options, without naming a preferred one. It will thereby in effect put the ball back in the court of the planning institutions and of NTA-Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd., which submitted the plans for revision.
Last week, NTA signed agreements with the companies that won the tender for management and planning of the Metro lines. The agreements, to which many Israeli and foreign companies are party, amount to some NIS 8 billion. They cover the first stage of construction of the project, which includes the trunk of the M1 line, the M2 line, and two-thirds of the M3 line. The remainder of the project is covered in options on continuation of the agreements. The northern sections of the system have been separated off into a third stage of construction. That is to say, the Metro lines to Kfar Sava and Ra’anana will be constructed only at the end of the project, which is due to get underway in two years’ time, and to open in stages between 2034 and 2037.
The budget for the entire project is NIS 150 billion. Infrastructure projects everywhere in the world tend to become substantially more expensive as construction proceeds and unforeseen glitches and gaps arise. Still, building the Metro is projected to be very worthwhile economically, yielding benefits worth some NIS 33 billion annually, according to government estimates.
Some sections, however, are more worthwhile than others. The northern branch terminating at Kfar Sava is the least economically worthwhile of all, and shifting the depot eastwards, which is under consideration, will make this line even more expensive.
If the system is built without the Kfar Sava depot, trains will not be able to run northwards of Glilot, and the frequency of trains and service to passengers will also be affected on the southern sections, as there will be limited space and limited locations for garaging trains.
The northern part of the Gush Dan metropolis suffers from very high dependence on private cars, leading to traffic jams within cities and on inter-city routes. Initiatives to improve public transport in this area were stalled in the past, when the same local authorities as objected to the Metro also objected to the Pink Line of the light rail system, which was planned years ago, and to public transport lanes on roads passing through Ra’anana and Kfar Sava.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 29, 2023.
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2023.