Six-Week Rail Closure for Electrification, Protests Expected

YERUSHALAYIM -
A view of the new high-speed train between Yerushalayim and Tel Aviv, at the Yitzchak Navon Station. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

A rail track in central Israel will be closed for six weeks to allow workers to install long delayed electrification, a decision that will likely cause protests, Globes reported.

Minister of Transport Bezalel Smotrich explained to the Knesset Finance Committee on Monday that the decision was unavoidable.

“I made a dramatic decision yesterday that was not published. The railway electrification project has been stalled for many years, and is costing a great deal of money. Israel Railways bought electric railcars. We have the tools, but they can’t be used. I made the decision yesterday.

“We’re going to close one of the three tracks on the Ayalon Highway for six weeks, but we’re going to finish the project. You must understand that if we work only at night, it will take eighteen months, because they work only three hours at night. We’re making preparations for trains that will be canceled. There will be protests. It won’t be easy for six weeks, but after six weeks, it will be finished. Working 24/6 is much faster than working for a year and a half.”

When Finance Committee chairman Rabbi Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) asked whether it would entail work on Shabbos, Smotrich answered, “Not if we can avoid it.”

Israel Railways has so far electrified only the high-speed train between Yerushalayim and Tel Aviv, scheduled to open next month.