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October 7, 2013 3:44 pm

Israel Approves High-Speed Train Route to Eilat

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North Beach in Eilat. Photo: wiki commons. An Israeli government committee has approved plans for Israel’s most expensive transportation project ever, a high-speed rail line from central Israel to southern port city of Eilat on the Red Sea.

The 217-mile track to Eilat will run along the eastern flank of the Negev, allowing it to avoid rocket fire from Gaza or the Sinai. The train is expected to reach speeds up to 155 miles per hour, which will cut travel down to two hours from the four-to-five-hour trip by car or bus. An estimated 5 million passengers a year are expected to ride the train, Haaretz reported.

The rail line may also eventually act as a “land bridge” for cargo between Europe and Asia, which may require expansion of Eilat’s port. But environmentalists are concerned that the rail line may “destroy nature in the Negev and damage the Gulf of Eilat,” according to a joint statement by Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.

While a contractor has not been chosen yet, there are tentative plans for a Chinese company to handle the construction, which will cost up to NIS 7 billion, or $2 billion.

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  • Ron

    The idea of a land bridge to avoid the Suez Canal is intriging. This will open up a huge storage facility in Eilat and at the Med. for tens of thousands of containers that will be piggybacked on the train. It will allow ships that are too large for the Suez to do business that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. It will create millions in revenue and take away the political cost of the Suez Canal being used as a weapon.

  • Eric R.

    A high speed rail in Israel will prove to be every bit the boondoggle that it is turning out to be in California. Passenger rail loses money everywhere.

    While I actually agree with the idea of a freight rail line leading to Eilat (which would allow cargo to bypass the Suez Canal), the extra cost to accomodate high speed rail is unnecessary.