ISRAEL Railways confirmed on January 14 that it expected to call tenders in April for electrification at 25 kV 50Hz of 300 route-km. Expected to cost around US$270m, the work will take 41/2 years.

IR had originally envisaged wiring its entire passenger network, which is expected to grow from 450 to 675 route-km by 2010. However, the initial phase has been restricted by budgetary constraints. Top priority will be the main lines from Tel Aviv to Nahariyya in the north, Ashkelon in the south and Jerusalem in the east. Suburban routes to Kfar Sava, Rishon-le-Zion and Modi'in would also be included, but not the line to Beer Sheva.

The tender will only cover the infrastructure, and not the provision of electric traction. It will be open to international consortia, but IR hopes 40% of the work will be done by local subcontractors.