29 JANUARY 2018
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The long-awaited Tel Aviv – Jerusalem express will open on 30 March, the Israeli transport minister Israel Katz has announced.
The estimated $1.8bn project will cut journey times significantly, from the 78min ride on the old line built during the days of the Ottoman Empire, to just 28min. It will link Tel Aviv HaHagana to Navon station Jerusalem. Plans are also under way to extend the line to Herzliya and Karmiel.
A few months later a second track will open enabling services to increase to three trains per hour in peaks times, with six trains per hour planned for the longer term. The trains will reach speeds of up to 100mph.
The building of the trainline has provoked controversy. Environmental activists raised concerns about potential damage to the protected hills and valleys surrounding the capital. However, their argument was dismissed by the Interior Ministry’s Planning Committee. The high-speed rail line also crosses the Green Line twice, once near Latrun and also near Mevasseret Zion which invited criticism from the Israeli left and pro-Palestinian groups. A German company advising the project withdrew in the face of pressure from activists.
“I have promised and I keep my word; on the Passover holidays we will take trains to Jerusalem”, said Katz, when the opening date was announced.
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