ISRAELI PRIME Minister Ariel Sharon approved US$85m of funding for the long-planned upgrade of the line to Jerusalem on August 22, and a contract is expected to be signed this month. Work will begin with the 21 km Na’an - Bet-Shemesh section, at a cost of US$24m. The second stage will cover the Bet-Shemesh - Jerusalem section. Signalling will be modernised, and bridges strengthened for passenger and freight services.

In addition, Sharon instructed design work to go ahead for a new fast link from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem via Ben Gurion Airport. This would make use of the Tel Aviv - Ben Gurion - Modi’in line, scheduled to open to the airport in June 2002.

The Israeli government is to invest an extra US$24m in railways by the end of this year, of which US$16m will go on developing new projects. Work has already started on the US$45m Rosh Ha’Ayin - Kefar-Sava line, which includes three stations, at Rosh Ha’ Ayin North, Nordau and Sokolov. Studies for a 22 km line from Akko to Karmi’el costing US$120m are under way. The Ministry of Finance has removed its objection to the US$24m project to build a 3·5 km branch from Be’er Ya’aqov on the Lod - Rehovot line to Rishon Le-Ziyyon; it had preferred a route via Holon.

  • A feasibility study drawn up by Israel Railways, assisted by Systra and Israeli engineering company Baran, has recommended electrifying 350 route-km at 25 kV 50Hz, including the lines from Tel Aviv to Nahariya and Be’er Sheva.