Railway Off Course

YERUSHALAYIM -
Construction of the Yerushalayim–Tel Aviv high-speed railway. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Construction of the Yerushalayim–Tel Aviv high-speed railway. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Tunnel construction stopped after error found

Israel Railways halted the digging of two tunnels for the new fast rail line from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim, after it was discovered that they were off course, according to Haaretz.

The error, 60 centimeters off the planned direction of the two longest tunnels in Israel, was discovered during a routine inspection a few days ago.

Officials said the problem was probably due to a miscalculation in the digging angle of the huge tunnel-boring machine. It will take several days to determine how the error could be corrected and is not expected to result in increased construction costs.

The automated boring machine is operated by an Italian company, Pizzarotti, on behalf of the Israeli construction contractor Shapir Engineering.

The tunnels are part of the new rail line being built to the capital, known as A1, and the off-track tunnels are between Sha’ar Hagai and the Arazim Valley.

Workers enter a tunnel under construction along the route of the planned high-speed train between Tel Aviv and Yerushalayim. (Kobi Gideon / Flash90)
Workers enter a tunnel under construction along the route of the planned high-speed train between Tel Aviv and Yerushalayim. (Kobi Gideon / Flash90)

This was not the first snag in construction. The original plan called for completion of work on the section by the end of 2013 at a cost of NIS 1.6 billion. But that has been revised upward to NIS 1.8 billion, and the end won’t be in sight until the first quarter of 2015.

It turned out later that Israel Railways had published the tender before it had completed all the statutory requirements. It was then confronted with fierce resistance by environmental organizations and planning bodies against various parts of the project.

In addition, the state comptroller concluded in a report on the project in 2009 that there were serious flaws in the planning of the route. Revision of plans led to delays and lawsuits, and drove up the costs.