A planned train line that was to be built between Rosh Ha’ayin and Ariel will be extended 10 kilometers east, to the Tapuach Junction, Transport Minister Yisrael Katz announced. Katz informed Shomron Council head Yossi Dagan of his decision Wednesday night. Dagan had lobbied Katz for months on the issue.
The extension is expected to have a significant impact on the desirability of living in central and eastern Shomron, which until now were considered relatively isolated communities. Most of the communities in that area are outside the parameters of the security fence, and as a result, homes in the communities sell at a significant discount to those just a few kilometers west. With the extension of the line to the Tapuach Junction, residents of those communities will have an easy way to get to jobs in the Tel Aviv area.
The decision to build a train line to western Shomron was made by Katz several months ago, in light of the population explosion in the region. Many communities in Shomron are experiencing population growth of 8-10 percent a year, compared to the national population growth average of 1.8 percent annually. The extension of the line to the Tapuach Junction will help communities further east experience similar growth levels, opening up work and leisure opportunities for them, and opening up the region to many Israelis from the center of the country who are looking for less expensive housing, Dagan said.
“Advancement of the rail plan is critical to development of the area, and this decision is nothing less than historic,” Dagan said. “I congratulate Minister Katz for the leadership he has exhibited in this matter. Shomron residents are entitled to the same services as all other Israelis, and certainly they are entitled to convenient transportation options,” he added.