About a decade later than the original target date, Israel Railways is preparing for the first continuous commercial trip on the fast train connecting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The ride is expected to take off this Saturday night.
Staring in November, Israel Railways has been running test rides on the new line, and on Wednesday morning, the current transport minister, Bezalel Smotrich, and the former transport minister, Israel Katz (now Foreign Minister), joined the trip.
Transport Minister Smotrich said before boarding the new fast train: “There are days when we can lift our heads, raise our backs and be proud of the great privilege we have of being part of the founding of the state and the realization of the Zionist vision. David Ben-Gurion received the first train to Jerusalem in a grand ceremony, and less than 70 years later, we are opening today the fast railway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”
Foreign Minister Katz also said: “These are historic days of connecting the capital Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the center of the country. I was involved in decision-making, including when would be best to launch the line. Minister Smotrich has been making bold decisions in managing things.”
The expected travel time from the Nation’s Buildings in Jerusalem, to Tel Aviv, including a stop at Ben Gurion Airport, is 32 minutes, and in the opposite direction 34 minutes (because it’s uphill?).
Today, including a compulsory change at Ben Gurion Airport, the same ride takes about 50 minutes.
The line is 57 kilometers long (35.5 miles), about 32 km of which are on the new rail, which features nine bridges—3 km altogether, and five tunnels, 19 km in total.
The trains will leave in both directions every half hour.
The project is expected to be completed at the cost of about 7 billion shekel (about $2 billion), which were invested, among other things, in electrifying the line, making it the first electrified line in Israel.
Israel Railways is currently in the process of a system-wide railroad electrification project, expanding it to the Tel Aviv railroad.
Last week, Siemens AG in Germany performed its first experiment on the new Israeli electric train. It is expected to arrive by the end of 2020 and enter service during 2021.