Smotrich orders six-week closure of Tel Aviv rail track
19 November 2019 - globes
Minister of Transport Bezalel Smotrich: If we work only at night, it will take eighteen months to finish the railway electrification project.
Minister of Transport Bezalel Smotrich has ordered the closure of one of the railway tracks along the Ayalon Highway for six weeks so that electrification work can be carried out on the track. He told the Knesset Finance Committee today, "I made a dramatic decision yesterday that was not published. The railway electrification project has been stalled for many years, and is costing a great deal of money. Israel Railways bought electric railcars. We have the tools, but they can't be used. I made the decision yesterday.
"We're going to close one of the three tracks on the Ayalon Highway for six weeks, but we're going to finish the project. You must understand that if we work only at night, it will take eighteen months, because they work only three hours at night. We're making preparations for trains that will be canceled. There will be protests. It won't be easy for six weeks, but after six weeks, it will be finished. Working 24/6 is much faster than working for a year and a half."
Finance Committee chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) asked Smotrich whether the work would also take place on Saturdays. Smotrich answered, "Not if we can avoid it."
Smotrich added, "The transportation crisis is one of the most urgent problems in Israel. We're eating the bitter fruit of a long period in which the focus was on the housing crisis and tens of thousands of housing units were built without anyone asking how people would get to work. If I have the honor of continuing as minister of transport, we'll come to the next Economic Arrangements bill with a very broad basket of tools, some of them involving taxation."
Israel Railways has so far managed to electrify only the high-speed train between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and even that eighteen months after the original timetable. Work on electrification of the line to Jerusalem has reached the Hagana railway station in Tel Aviv, and the line is scheduled to open next month. The next stage is slated to be electrification of one track along the Ayalon Highway to facilitate continuous travel on an electric train from Jerusalem to Glilot.