Still no launch date for Tel Aviv light rail

Tel Aviv light rail credit: Noy Maya
Tel Aviv light rail credit: Noy Maya

The possibility of the Red Line commencing operations in July is receding with August looking more likely.

At the start of July, residents of Greater Tel Aviv received the encouraging news that the opening of the Tel Aviv light rail Red Line was fast approaching, and would take place later this month. Since then two weeks have passed, and there is still no official launch date.

The reason for the premature celebrations was that the announcement, also in "Globes," was based on a letter of intent to issue a permit in principle by the German inspection company, which was hired to ensure that there were no safety problems in the line's operations. But since then the final approval has failed to arrive.

The approval is required due to a fault that was found in the connection between the signaling system and the rest of the light rail systems, which was setting off the emergency brakes. Initially, the Ministry of Transport conditioned the opening of the line on zero such false stops, but now they are ready to settle for stops that do not constitute a safety hazard.

The most recent test carried out on the trains concerns the strength of the jolting during emergency braking and whether it could cause injuries. NTA, which is responsible for the project, forwarded the findings to the German inspection company, and claimed that light rail lines in the world have begun operating in conditions similar to those of the Red Line. Sources familiar with the project believe that it is a matter of days until the official approval is received from the German company. In the past it has already been claimed that approval was about to arrive, but the inspection procedures took longer than assumed, although, even the skeptics are a little more optimistic since the letter of intent was received.

Only after final approval by the German inspection company will the steering committee headed by Ministry of Transport director general Moshe Ben-Zaken meet with representatives of the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Finance, and a date will be set for the opening of the light rail. Thus, the likelihood that the line will actually open this month is receding and the opening looks more feasible only in August.

The opening date will also take into account the opening ceremony, which will be held with the launch of the line, and this depends on the schedules of the government and in particular if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend.

234,000 passengers are expected to travel on the Red Line every day. The 24 kilometer line with 34 stations will connect five local authorities: Petah Tikva, Bnei Brak, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv-Yafo and Bat Yam.

The opening of the Red Line was initially planned for October 2021, but was postponed to November 2022 and has been repeatedly postponed ever since. First it was promised that the line would open in the first quarter of 2023, then in March, Independence Day and so on. Projects of this magnitude are frequently delayed around the world, but in many cases there is more transparency and public information while in Israel NTA has repeatedly stuck to dates that were clearly not realistic.

NTA said, "The opening date of the Red Line will be set by the Ministry of Transport."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on July 16, 2023.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2023.

Tel Aviv light rail credit: Noy Maya
Tel Aviv light rail credit: Noy Maya
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