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Railway projects in Israel: Progress and opportunities [free access]

September 1, 2018

Public transportation development in Israel has picked up pace in the last two decades. The government has announced launched various rail projects to cater to the increasing demand of a growing population. Figure 1 depicts the population growth in the country.

 

Figure 1: Population growth in Israel (1997-2017)

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Source: Global Mass Transit Research

 

Israel’s population is set to increase by around 5 million in the next 23 years and the government is investing in infrastructure development in the country. Major cities such as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth, Ariel City, Rosh HaAyin and Petah Tikva will witness increased investment in the rail sector in the form of development of various light rail transit (LRT), metrorail and high speed rail (HSR) projects.

 

The Tel Aviv city plans to add around 250 km of urban rail network. Metropolitan Mass Transit System Limited (NTA) is developing the LRT and metrorail system. Jerusalem Public Transport Administration (JPTA) has opened one LRT line, the Red Line, in 2011.

 

Tel Aviv LRT

 

The LRT project involves development of four lines, which together span 122 km and cover 181 stations. A consortium of Egged Bus Group (51 per cent), Shenzhen Metro (30 per cent) and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (19 per cent) will operate the upcoming Red Line for a period of 10 years as per a contract secured in August 2017. The contract has option for a six-year extension. Table 1 provides the details of the planned LRT network.

 

Table 1: Planned LRT network

Line

Length (km)

Stations

Route

Expected annual ridership (million passengers)

Budget (USD billion)

Red

24 (12 km underground and

12 km at-grade)

34

(10 underground)

Petah Tikva suburb in the north to Bat Yam through the downtown area of Tel Aviv

70

4.5

Green

39 (4.5 km underground and

34.5 km at-grade)

62

(4 underground)

The line will connect the southern portions of the Gush Dan metropolitan area (Holon and the outskirts of Rishon LeZion) with Tel Aviv

65

5.7

Purple

29 (at-grade)

45

The line will connect the 2000 Complex to the Sheba Medical Centre, where the line will be split into two sections – north and south

60

2.5

 

Brown

30

40

The line will connect southern portion of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area including the cities of Lod, Ramle, Be’er Yaakov, and Rishon LeZion

20

Under statutory design

Total

122

181

-

-

-

Source: NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System Limited

 

The Allenby Road–Jaffa stretch of the Red Line is planned to be operational in October 2021. Service frequency is estimated to be 3-6 minutes.

 

WSP (former Parsons Brinckerhoff) is providing contractor coordination and project management services for a period of 10 years under a USD233-million contract secured in October 2014. In July 2018, NTA invited bids to execute the final projects and manage contractors for the line. Last date for the submission of bids was August 20, 2018.

 

Rolling stock and technology: Changchun Railway Vehicles (CRV-now CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles Company Limited) is supplying 90 light rail vehicles (LRVs)under a contract secured in 2015. The company also secured a contract in September 2017 to maintain the fleet for a period of 16 years. A fleet of 30 additional LRVs may be procured depending upon demand.

 

Tracks will be standard gauge (1,435 mm). Power will be sourced from an overhead catenary (1.5 kV DC) in accordance with EN 50163. Israel Electric Corporation will feed power at 22 kV AC.

 

In November 2017, Alstom secured a EUR90-million contract for the development, manufacture, procurement, supply, installation, testing, commissioning, warranty and maintenance of the signalling and train control system of the 90 LRVs to be deployed on the line.

 

In February 2018, a consortium of China Railway Tunnel Group and China Railway Electrification Bureau Company Limited secured a contract to supply electricity and communication systems as well as light rail tracks for the line.

 

Platform screen doors will be provided.

 

Other lines

 

Pre qualification for the tender for design, build, finance and maintain (DBFM) the systems, rolling stock and tracks of the Green and Purple lines LRT were launched in July 2018. Last date for the submission of bids is December 13, 2018. Contract value is estimated to be NIS6 billion for the Green Line and NIS4 billion for the Purple Line.

 

Tel Aviv Metro

 

NTA plans to develop a metrorail system in the city. The system will comprise three lines, M1, M2 and M3, which will together span 130 km and cover 100 stations. Annual ridership is estimated to be 500 million passengers.

 

The investment required is estimated at ILS130-140 billion (USD36-38 billion). State government and multilateral agencies are expected to fund the project.

 

Table 2 provides the details of the planned metrorail system.

 

Table 2: Planned metrorail network

Lines

Length (km)

Area served

M1

73

The line will serve Ra'anana, Herzliya, Ramat Hasharon, Kfar Saba, Hod Hasharon, Tel Aviv, Bat Yam, Holon, Rishon Lezion, Ness Ziona, Rehovot, Beer Yaakov, Ramle, and Lod, as well as future development areas, such as the site of the IMI campus in Hod Hasharon, the Glilot Interchange, the Holon Interchange, and Tzrifin

M2

25

The line will serve Rosh HaAyin, Petah Tikva, Givatayim, and Tel Aviv, as well as future development areas, such as the Syrkin area

M3

32

The line will serve the cities of Bat Yam, Holon, Azor, Or Yehuda, Givat Shmuel, Petah Tikva, Tel Aviv, Ramat Hasharon, and Herzliya, as well as future development areas such as Glil Yam, western Ramat Hasharon, Tel Hashomer, and Or Yehuda.

Source: Global Mass Transit Research

 

Initial design is expected to be completed by 2019. Construction is expected to begin in 2024.

 

In July 2018, bids were invited to provide early planning services for the metro lines.

 

Jerusalem LRT

 

The Red Line LRT spans 13.9 km from Mount Herzl to 'Heil Ha-Avir, covering 23 stations. It had annual ridership of42.46 million passengers in 2017.

 

Alstom has supplied 23 two-car Citadis 302 trams. Each tram is 32.50 metres long, 2.65 metres wide and has a capacity to carry 248 passengers. Tracks are standard gauge (1,435 mm). Power is sourced from overhead catenary (750 V DC).Service frequency is 6 minutes between 7am and 6pm.

 

Capital plans: Plans have been approved for the development of two lines, Green and Blue, at an estimated investment of ILS10 million each.

 

Green Line: In July 2016, the Jerusalem City Hall approved the project. The line will span 19.6 km from Gilo in the southwest of the city to Ammunition Hill and Mount Scopus in the east via Binyanei-Hauma. It will cover 36 stations and have interchange facility with the Red Line at Binyanei-Hauma station. Passenger operations are planned to commence in 2024.

 

In June 2018, the joint tenders committee of Israel’s Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Finance, and the Municipality of Jerusalem invited requests for proposals (RfPs) from seven shortlisted consortia to develop the Green Line on design, build, finance, operate and maintain (DBFOM) basis. The seven consortia are Shapir Engineering and CAF; Shikun u Binuy, Egged Holdings (part of Egged bus company), and Meridam Infrastructure; Ashtrom, Keren Infrastructures for Israel, and Harel; Hitachi, Minrav, and the Meir Group; GEK, Pangea Israel, IDT Corporation, and Terna; Electra and bus operator Dan; and Bombardier, Oron Group, Lesico, Macquarie, and bus operator MetropoLine.

 

Blue Line: In December 2017, the Jerusalem City Hall approved the project. The line will span 20 km from Ramot to Gilo, covering 42 stations. It will cover three underground stops, namely, Mea Shearim, Tzfania and Bar Ilan. The average daily ridership on the line is expected to be 250,000 passengers. Passengers operations are planned to commence in 2023.

 

Ariel LRT

 

Netivei Israel/ National Transport Infrastructure Company has announced plans to develop a new LRT system to connect Ariel City with Rosh HaAyin and Petah Tikva. The system will be built at an estimated investment of NIS4 billion (USD1.16 billion) and is expected to become operational by 2025.

 

The MOT is considering three route options for a single line:

 

 

The project is currently under planning.

 

Haifa-Nazareth LRT

 

The project involves development of a single LRT line, which will span 43 km (7 km urban, 36 km inter-urban) from Hamifratz Central station in Haifa to Hamusakhim Junction in Nazareth, covering 26 stations (11 urban, 15 inter-urban). 

 

Cross Israel Highway Company, a wholly owned company of the government of Israel,is implementing the project. The National Council for Design and Construction approved the project in February 2017 and the project cost is estimated at USD1.6 billion.

 

A fleet of 32 single-car tram trains will be deployed on the line. Each tram train will be 52 metres long and have the capacity to accommodate up to 300 passengers (130 seated). The trains will have a maximum speed of 100 km /hr in inter-urban sections and 60 km/hr in urban sections.

 

Tracks will be standard gauge (1,435 mm). Power will be sourced from third rail (750 V DC).

 

In May 2018, Cross Israel Highway Limited invited bids to manage design and construction. The scope of work includes preparation of tender documents and providing consultancy services to the contracting authority during the first three years of operations.  The last date for the submission of bids was August 30, 2018.

 

Tel Aviv-Jerusalem HSR

 

The project involves construction of a 56-km HSR link between Jerusalem and the Greater Tel Aviv metropolitan area as well as electrification of the existing railway line. The Government of Israel is the developer and the investment is estimated at USD2 billion.

 

The HSR is expected to reduce the end-to-end journey time from 78 minutes to 28 minutes. Annual ridership is expected to be 2.8 million passengers in the first year of service.

 

In March 2018, it was announced that the HSR line will commence partial operations by March 2018. Initially, only one track will be operational and service frequency will be 30 minutes. Full scale operations are expected to commence by 2019.

 

Conclusion

 

The Government of Israel has undertaken ambitious projects and the development of these new systems brings forward many challenges. For example, the construction of LRT system in Tel Aviv has exposed the city to congestion and the government has increased bus and rail fleet as well as introduced new bus routes to increase the carrying capacity of buses. Further, the project to extend the Red Line LRT in Jerusalem faced delays and construction contracts were cancelled. Source of funds for various other projects are yet to be finalised. The government has shown its commitment towards sustainable transport by continuing to invest in the planning and implementation of rail projects.

 

(1ILS [New Israeli Shekel] = 0.27 USD)

 

We respectfully acknowledge the support of Inna Dobrin, Knowledge Management Supervisor, NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System Limited, in the preparation of this feature. Her inputs and guidance were vital in the presentation of this information.