ISRAELI Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and National Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon participated in ceremonies in March to mark the start of work on Israel Railways' Tel Aviv suburban network. The first line to Kfar Sava is costed at US$160m for infrastructure and US$88m for rolling stock, but IR General Manager Amos Uzani is looking to develop the project in stages.

The US$20m first phase covers reconstruction of the 14 km east-west line from Tel Aviv (Savidor) to Rosh-Ha-Ayin with UIC-54 continuous welded rail and B70 concrete sleepers. Stations at Bnei-Brak and Rosh-Ha-Ayin will be completely rebuilt. New stations will be added at University, where the branch diverges from the Haifa main line, and at Hahagana and Yizhak Saide on the cross-city Ayalon corridor.

An initial half-hourly service offering a journey time of 17 min is expected to handle 2 million passengers a year. In the longer term, the line will be double-tracked and electrified, to give a journey time of 29 min to Kfar-Sava.

The service will be worked by double-deck trainsets, which will run push-pull with diesel locos but be designed for conversion to EMUs. On March 8 IR announced that Alstom Transport had been selected as preferred bidder to supply 30 sets for a total value of US$180m. Alstom will initially supply four trains at a cost of US$30m, with options for the other 26 to be exercised over the next three years. Interiors will be provided by Ramta and Amit who will assemble the cars locally.

  • In a meeting at the cabinet office in mid-April, Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed Tel Aviv metro company NTA to call BOT tenders before May 17 for an initial 18 km line from Petah Tikva to Beit-Hadar via Savidor, including a 5·5 km tunnel under the busy Jabotinsky Road corridor in Ramat Gan. Detailed discussions between NTA and the Finance ministry were held later in the month to finalise the alignment and type of rolling stock to be used.

    Key facts

    n Half hourly service to Rosh-Ha-Ayin from 2000

    n Three new stations

    n Kfar Sava extension will follow next

    n Alstom to supply 30 double-deck trainsets