ON APRIL 5 Israel Railways put into service new buildings at Nahariya station, which is being rebuilt at a cost of US$1m. Traffic here rose by 50% last year, to 100000 passengers a month. Completion of a second platform next year will allow the launch of a half-hourly service, with alternative trains running to Beer Sheva and Ben Gurion airport.

Passenger traffic is continuing to grow rapidly, and IR announced in March that February was 20% up on 2000. Total for the first two months was 2·2 million passengers, against 1·8 million in 2000.

Last month saw the approval of IR’s capital budget for 2001, which totals US$182m. Of this, US$10·8m is allocated for completion of the Lod - Rehovot double-tracking, US$17·5m for the branch to Ben Gurion airport, and US$3·6m for a third track on the Ayalon corridor through the centre of Tel Aviv.

US$148m will go on rolling stock, with more IC3 DMUs, double-deck trains and Alstom diesel locos to be delivered by September 2002. The first two double-deckers arrived in Israel in April, and are expected to enter service on the Tel Aviv - Rosh-ha-Ayin line in July. On this route, a new station was opened at Sgula near Petach Tikva on March 25; work is to start shortly on another at Kiryat Arie.

General Manager Amos Uzani has proposed construction of a third suburban line, from Tel Aviv to Rishon-le-Zion, to join those now under construction to Kfar-Sava and Ben Gurion. n