YERUSHALAYIM - The first test run of a train that will stop at Meron could be conducted as soon as Lag BaOmer, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said. Responding to a question by MK Rabbi Menachem Eliezer Mozes, Katz said that the train station is under construction, and that a train with MKs and other dignitaries could conduct its test run as soon as Lag BaOmer.
The train line is a spur of the Carmiel-Kiryat Shemona train line, and connects to the rest of the train system. Located some 4-1/3 miles (7 km) from the tziyun of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron, the train is expected to significantly improve transportation to and from the site, which sees upward of a half million people on Lag BaOmer. Crowded roads and heavy traffic are the norm, with many people unable to get to the site for the festivities. Katz said that the new train lines running throughout the north will bring the region considerably closer to the center of the country, opening up employment and housing possibilities.
In addition, Katz said that he was working to ensure that a train line running to the Jaffa Gate of the Old City of Yerushalayim would be ready by next Pesach. The train will be an extension of the high-speed rail service between Tel Aviv and Yerushalayim, which is set to be completed by the summer. Katz said that the line would be extended to include several stops in central Jerusalem, including one that would stop adjacent to the Kosel, making it easier for travelers to reach the site.