The National Infrastructure Committee, headed by Interior Ministry director general Mordechai Cohen, has approved a first phase of development to optimize the connection between Israel's four main urban centers - Jerusalem, Beersheva, Haifa and Tel Aviv - via a high-speed rail network, with trains traveling at speeds of up to 250 km/h.
Today, a train ride between the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Tel Aviv’s Haganah station takes 75 minutes or more on the route that passes through Ofakim, Netivot and Ashkelon, and longer on the northern route via Kiryat Malachi, Lod and Ramla. Train speeds are very limited, at up to 140 km/h.
Under the plan, the number of annual train journeys in Israel will multiply fivefold in 20 years to reach about 300 million passenger journeys in 2040. Unlike the present situation, the new plan will separate freight transport from passenger transport, and intercity rail traffic from suburban rail traffic. In this way, tracks will be cleared for more frequent express trains than can be run today.
The railway network will ultimately consist of three elements. The first: high-speed railways reaching speeds of up to 250 km/h, running every 5-10 minutes during peak hours, to connect the four municipal centers. The electrified Tel Aviv-Beersheva high-speed railway will be part of this network.
The second component will be a suburban rail network reaching speeds of up to 160 km/h, which will connect suburban areas to city centers, running every 15-20 minutes during peak hours. The goal set for 2040, is for about 70% of the country to be able to reach a city center within 45 minutes.
The third component is a freight main line, located to the east, transporting a targeted 40 million tons by 2040.
Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri said , "We’re connecting the center to the periphery. Residents of the Beersheva area, and particularly of Beersheva itself, will benefit from a huge step up, as the high-speed railway becomes a reality and connects to the Gush Dan metropolitan area.
"Similarly, the many opportunities offered by Beersheva will be more accessible to Gush Dan residents, thanks to the significant reduction in travel time. The plan was designed with the environmental perspective in mind, and the selected routes are adjacent to the existing infrastructure, to avoid harm to open spaces."
The committee's planner, Nava Alinsky-Radai, said, "The plan is an important step in creating a network of 250 km/h railways that will alleviate traffic congestion and enable a fast connection between the Beersheva metropolitan area and the three other metropolitan areas: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. It will provide a modern, rapid transit infrastructure to further improve and streamline service for passengers, and encourage the use of public transport."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 17, 2020
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