Knesset Committee Criticizes Transportation Minister Over High-Speed Rail Delays

On Monday, the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee convened to discuss delays in the completion of the high-speed railway connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Originally expected to begin running in March 2018, the long-awaited public transportation project was delayed again and again. Now, members of the Knesset want to know what is going on.

The meeting, called for by Labor Party Member Eitan Cabel, sharply criticized Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz for his failure to meet deadlines from the project’s beginning. “If he can’t keep to a schedule, why set deadlines?”, Cabel pondered. MK Rachel Azaria noted that another delay announcement is likely and that those involved in the project don’t expect the train to begin running before the middle of 2019.

Last month Globes published a scathing article about Katz’s history as Transportation Minister and his ability to perform his job satisfactorily. Earlier this week, a committee that was expected to provide a decision regarding the Emek Refaim light rail was reportedly instructed without reason to delay its decision indefinitely by Katz.

One reason given for the constant delays was the failure to account for safety requirements at the early planning stages. Regardless, the committee demanded that a bi-monthly report be submitted to ensure full accountability and that construction is on track.

Initiated in 2001 and touted as the largest infrastructure project in the country’s history, the line required the construction of 57 km of rail, 7 km of bridges, 38 km of tunnels, and a train station that delves 80 meters below ground. There are also plans for future extensions to Downtown Jerusalem and the Old City.

When the line begins operating in mid-2019, it will transport passengers from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in under 30 minutes.

(Header Photo by Israel Railways)

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