Israel Railways finished the first half of 2016 with a profit of NIS 64 million, after expenses, the Railway said Thursday. That was a significant increase over the NIS 48 million in profit it made in the first half of 2015. Revenue was NIS 921 million this year, compared to NIS 891 million for the same period last year.
Ridership was up 12 percent this year compared to the first six months of 2015. The Railway recorded 28.9 million trips in January-June 2016, compared to 25.9 million in 2015. On an average workday, 213,000 people ride the trains; that figure was 194,000 in the first half of 2015. May 2016 set a record for railway trips, with an average of 248,000 passengers per workday.
One of the reasons for the increased ridership, Israel Railways said, was a constantly increasing on-time schedule. In the first half of 2016, the trains ran on time 95.6 percent of the time, compared to an average of 95 percent during the period 2013-2015, and 88.67 percent between 2010 and 2012.
In addition, cargo transports were also up in the first half of 2016, by 21 percent. That number could zoom in the coming years, however, with the projected opening of the “Valley Railroad” line, a revival of the historic route between Beit She’an and Haifa. Besides connecting much of the Galilee with Haifa and Tel Aviv, the railway could also serve as a bridge to the Arab world, Transport Minister Yisrael Katz said. “We intend for the line to continue on through to Jordan and the rest of the Arab world,” said Katz. Currently, hundreds of trucks transfer goods between Israel and Jordan, and Katz hopes that some of those shipments will be made by train. A cargo depot is planned, and initial talks have been conducted with Jordan on the idea, he said.
“This will be a bridge of peace,” Katz added. “I believe that in a very short period of time it will become clear that the investment we made here was worthwhile. I know there are some who doubted this, but I believe they will be proven wrong.”