Treasury estimates Eilat rail link will cost NIS 50b

Finance Ministry estimates for the project are far higher than Transport Ministry estimates.

The total cost of the Eilat railway project could reach NIS 50 billion, according to a Ministry of Finance representative at the Knessets State Auditing Committee meeting today. The committee met to discuss the financial worthwhileness of a rail line to Eilat, following figures revealed by Globes of the Finance Ministrys budget estimate of NIS 30-50 billion, compared with Ministry of Transport estimates of a mere NIS 27-40 billion.

Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz said at the meeting that The question of whether it is necessary and worthwhile to build a railway has already been answered, and noted that the estimated cost of the project at the Transport Ministry is NIS 24.5 billion including an extra 20% for unforeseen expenses. However, Ministry of Finance budget committee public transportation representative Moran Mazor said that the number is based on presentations, and has not undergone a proper examination.

Mazor said the official estimate is missing content that will cost tens of billions of additional shekels, without which some of the projects goals will not be realized. Mazor gave the example of the connection of the train to Eilat - according to the current plans, the rail line ends in the Shehoret Canyon region, and, in order to connect the rail line to the city and to the Eilat port, a large additional financial investment will be necessary.

Katz said that, to date, the government has spent NIS 100 million to promote the project, most of which has gone towards planning procedures and approval. Katz says that he will soon present for approval to the cabinet a proposal which also details financing sources for the project.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on May 26, 2014

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2014

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