After 17 years of construction and countless delays, the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv high-speed rail is officially open to the public.
So… All aboard?
Despite being the most direct line between Israel’s two most populous cities, the procedure for taking a ride is a bit more circuitous.
Here’s everything you should know before planning your next trip…
About the Train
The new train will supplement the existing 126-year old railway originally built by the Ottomans.
Touted as a high-speed rail, the $2B line’s 160-km/h top speed is actually quite sluggish by international standards. The Shanghai Maglev, for example, tops out at 431 km/h.
Nevertheless, the commute time between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv will be cut down to just under 30 minutes — a tempting proposition for commuters who often spend hours in traffic every day.
Getting to this point required a heavy investment in infrastructure, which includes seven km of bridges (eight in total), 38 km of tunnels (five in total), and 57 km of track.
It also required the construction of a new train station, more centrally located than its Malha predecessor.
The Yitzchak Navon Railway Station
The Yitchak Navon Railway Station is located across from the International Convention Center at the entrance to the city.
Designed by Barchana Architects, its facade deviates from Jerusalem’s standard limestone, opting instead for a stark glass and steel exterior that serves as a first taste of what’s to come once the Jerusalem Gateway Project is completed.
It also serves as more of a landmark of sorts, as the heart of the structure actually lies deep within Jerusalem’s crust. At eighty meters below ground, the station is one of the deepest in the world. It’s so far down that it will take an estimated ten minutes of horizontal travel within the station just to get to the main platform.
The high-speed rail will connect Jerusalem to Tel Aviv by way of Ben Gurion Airport (LLBG).
Due to a failure to complete the infrastructure for the project at launch, however, the high-speed rail will only run between Jerusalem and LLBG – a 21-minute ride.
Passengers who want to take the full trip will be required to make a 12-minute transfer to a diesel train in order to complete the journey to HaShalom Station in Tel Aviv.
Pricing and Booking
Similar to the introductory period of the Jerusalem light rail, tickets will be free for all riders during the first three months of operation.
For the proceeding two years, tickets will be subsidized at 11 shekels per trip.
The final cost of a single ride will be 22 shekels per trip.
Booking a ticket for an inaugural ride is complicated. You can refer to the Israel Railways guide (English) for more information.
Hours of Operation
The train will depart twice per hour until 8 PM on Sunday-Thursday. It will not operate on Fridays or Saturdays.
Plans for additional stations throughout Jerusalem have been thrown around by officials at Israel Railways, the most notable of which is a Western Wall station that would be named for US President Donald Trump in honor of his decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
(Header Photo by Alexey Bogoslavsky)