Jerusalem Light Rail
Jerusalem Light Rail
הרכבת הקלה בירושלים
Light Rail on Chords Bridge
|Locale||Jerusalem, Israel and the West Bank|
|Termini||Israel Air Force Street
|Services||1 (Pisgat Ze'ev – Mount Herzl)|
|Daily ridership||130,000 (2013)|
|Opening||August 19, 2011|
|Depot(s)||French Hill depot|
|Rolling stock||Alstom Citadis 302|
|Line length||13.8 km (8.6 mi)|
|No. of tracks||2|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||750 V DC OHLE|
|Operating speed||80 km/h (50 mph)|
The Jerusalem Light Rail (Hebrew: הרכבת הקלה בירושלים, HaRakevet HaKala Birushalayim) is a light rail line, the first of several rapid transit lines planned in Jerusalem. Construction began in 2002 and ended in 2010, when the testing phase began. It was built by the CityPass consortium, which has a 30-year concession to operate it. Construction also involved building the Jerusalem Chords Bridge and various renovation projects around the city.
After repeated delays due to archaeological findings and other issues, service began, initially free of charge, on August 19, 2011. It became fully operational on December 1, 2011. The line is 13.9 kilometers (8.6 mi) long with 23 stops. Extensions are planned to the north to Neve Yaakov and to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital to the southwest. When completed, these will extend the line's length to 22.5 km.
- 1 History
- 2 Construction
- 3 Integrated transportation plans
- 4 Rolling stock
- 5 Operation
- 6 Controversy
- 7 Archaeological findings
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
In ancient times, Jerusalem was a point on the Ridge Route, also known as the Way of the Patriarchs, centrally located between the Via Maris (along the coast to the west) and the King's Highway (east of the River Jordan). The primary roads led to the gates of the Old City, such as the Jaffa Gate and the Damascus Gate. It was along these roads that the city grew when it expanded beyond the walls of the Old City in the 19th century, the major thoroughfares of the city thus becoming the Jaffa Road, leading to the west in the direction of the coastal plain, the watershed routes (Ridge Route) leading north to Ramallah, Nablus, and Damascus, and south to Bethlehem and Hebron, and one to the east to Jericho.
Early plans for an electric tramway were drawn up by a Greek Lebanese engineer, George Franjieh, in 1892, who had been involved in planning the Jaffa–Jerusalem railway. The tram would connect the city with Ein Karem and Bethlehem. In 1910, a tender for a tramway was published by the Ottoman authorities.
In 1918, the British Army built a rail system linking the German Colony with Al-Bireh, on the outskirts of Ramallah, traversing Jerusalem along a winding route. It was built by Rail Builders Company 272 of the British Royal Engineers, commanded by Colonel Jordan Bell, with some 850 Egyptian and local Arab laborers, about half of them women. The railway was used by the British army, and for a few months it supplied Allenby's troops. It was dismantled shortly after the front moved northward in late 1918. Some of the city's streets may have been paved along its route.
In the 1970s, when traffic congestion mounted in the city center, proposals were discussed for widening the main roads. In 1996, the government approved new plans for an integrated network relying on rapid transit, including a light rail system and bus rapid transit.
In the 1990s, a light rail system was proposed as a means of providing faster and less polluting public transit through the heart of the city, and reversing the decline of certain central areas. CityPass, a specially formed consortium, won a 30-year concession to build and operate Line 1 (the "Red Line"). CityPass consists of financiers Harel (20%), Polar Investments (17.5%) and the Israel Infrastructure Fund (10%), constructors Ashtrom (27.5%) and engineers Alstom (20%), plus service operators – Connex (now Veolia Transport) (5%). Veolia abandoned the project in 2009, selling its 5% stake to Dan Public Transportation Co, purportedly under political pressures.
However, the principal agreement with Dan did not materialize. Veolia entered another principal agreement with Egged. Veolia sold its stake in CityPass and its shares in the contract for the maintenance of the light rail to Egged. The contract stipulates that Veolia would provide consultancy services to Egged until the company acquired the necessary expertise. Dan has taken Veolia to court for exiting the principal agreement.
Construction of Line 1 began in 2002. Dubbed the "Red Line", it initially has 23 stations on a new 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) twin-track 13.8 kilometres (8.6 mi) alignment. It runs from Pisgat Ze'ev in northern East Jerusalem, south along Road 1 (intercity) to Jaffa Road (Rehov Yaffo). From there, it runs along Jaffa Road westward to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, and continues to the southwest, crossing the Chords Bridge along Herzl Boulevard to the Beit HaKerem neighborhood, finishing just beyond Mount Herzl below Bayit VeGan. The first test run for this route was on February 24, 2010. The laying of the railroad tracks was completed on June 15, 2010.
Inauguration of the light rail service was postponed four times. The initial date was January 2009, deferred to August 2010 due to funding problems and lack of staff. When it was announced that signals for the trains was not compatible with Israeli stop light systems, CityPass was given until April 2011, but after the problem persisted and other safety issues were not resolved, an August 2011 date was settled on, and service was to begin without giving priority to trains at traffic lights. As a result, travel time for the full route began at 80 minutes instead of the planned 42, until final synchronization of the lights is completed. When the light rail started operating on Friday, 19 August 2011, there were also air conditioning issues and electrical and communications problems, one of them making trains suddenly "disappear" and then "reappear" on the screens of the control center near French Hill. In addition to these mishaps, the computerized ticketing system collapsed a few days before the inauguration. After arbitration between CityPass and government officials, it was decided that the trains would begin limited operation as scheduled. Only 14 of the 21 trains were put into operation, departing every 21 minutes, and travel was free of charge. As of December 1, 2011, passengers must pay to ride.
Development along the route
As part of the light rail project, CityPass plans to install blind-friendly traffic lights along the route, and has developed a number of sites along the route, such as Davidka Square. In late 2009, trees were planted along the line. The species selected were deemed suitable to the Jerusalem climate, hardy enough to withstand the city's cold winters while providing shade in summer. Over 3,500 trees were planted along the route in 2009–11. The genera include platanus, ash and types of oak. In March 2011, however, the Ministry of Transportation objected to having trees adjacent to the route, due to visibility problems.
The Chords Bridge is a cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge designed by the Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, built for the light rail, close to the most frequently used entrance to Jerusalem, in the neighborhood of Kiryat Moshe. The bridge carries the trams in a grade separated manner over a busy road intersection. Incorporated in the bridge is a glass-sided pedestrian crossing, enabling pedestrians to cross unimpeded from the Kiryat Moshe area to the Central Bus Station grounds. The bridge, which cost about $70 million (NIS 246 million), was inaugurated on June 25, 2008.
Integrated transportation plans
Bus and train connection
The Jerusalem Central Bus Station is slated to became a major passenger transportation hub. The Jerusalem Binyanei HaUma Railway Station is being built for the new high-speed railway to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport. Passengers will also be able to board the existing intercity bus services at the station.
A park and ride facility was built near Mount Herzl, consisting of a multi-storey car park with the first line terminal on its roof, which is actually at the street level of Herzl Boulevard. An additional parking lot was erected adjacent to the Ammunition Hill stop.
The Jerusalem Municipality has plans to build eight bus rapid transit (BRT) and light rail lines across the city. Initial extensions to the Red Line were planned to the neighborhoods of Neve Yaakov in northern East Jerusalem and Ein Karem (near Hadassah Hospital) in the southwest. Former mayor Uri Lupolianski stated that they would be completed at the same time as the rest of the line. In 2008, French company Egis Rail won a 11.9 million Euro contract to carry out some of the design work. However, in March 2009, CityPass turned down implementing the project. In May 2010 the Jerusalem Municipality announced that the extensions would be built by the state authorities rather than a private company. The extension to Hadassah Hospital from Mount Herzl is particularly challenging and will involve a complex path with complicated bridging works. As of summer 2012, while works on the extension have not begun, the line's final terminal station, next to Hadassah's new inpatient building is nevertheless being built during the construction of the inpatient building – in order not to disrupt hospital operations later after the new building will be completed. Also planned are branches to the Red Line that would create a "campus line" connecting the Mount Scopus and Givat Ram campuses of the Hebrew University.
North–south BRT line
The first bus rapid transit (BRT) line, a feeder line to the Light Rail, is a dedicated bus line running along Hebron Road in south Jerusalem, northwards to Keren HaYesod Street, and from there to King George V Street, where it crosses the path of the light rail and continues along Straus Street towards Kikar HaShabbat to Yehezkel Street and Shmuel HaNavi Street, towards Golda Meir Boulevard in the direction of Ramot. Buses on this route are operated by the Egged Transportation Cooperative. Tour buses, Arab buses and mini-buses that run from the Damascus Gate also use the line.
The bus stops on this route have been designed to match the tram stops on the Red Line.
Initial rolling stock consists of 46 Citadis 302 100% low-floor five-module units manufactured at Alstom's Aytré factory. All axles are driven to handle gradients up to 9%. The first car was delivered via the Port of Ashdod in September 2007.
The maintenance and storage depot is on a 10 acres (40,000 m2) site near French Hill in northern East Jerusalem. The route and vehicles are monitored from the control center, and trams are driven under line-of-sight principles with built-in priority at many road intersections. The fare collection and ticketing system is supplied by Affiliated Computer Services.
The French-based company Veolia Transport, which held 5% of CityPass's shares, was originally meant to operate the light rail. However, due to pressure from groups united in the Derail Veolia campaign, operating within the context of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, in September 2009 Veolia agreed to sell part of its share in the project to the Dan Bus Company for $15–20 million. The sale was however unsuccessful, and Veolia agreed in October 2010 to sell its stake to Egged instead. As of December 2011, the sale to Egged was reported to have been held up by the Israeli state.
Travel over the full line is due to take 42 minutes from Pisgat Ze'ev at one end to Mount Herzl at the other (as of August 2012, the travel time is 46 minutes). The line operates Sunday through Thursday, from 5:30 am to 11:30 pm, on Friday up to an hour before sundown and not during the Shabbat or Jewish holidays, resuming half an hour after Shabbat or the Holiday ends. Frequency will be every 4.5 minutes during rush hours, every 8 minutes in the daytime and every 12 minutes at night. It is expected to carry up to 23,000 passengers an hour during peak morning rush hours. The light rail operates at a maximum speed of 50 km/h (31 mph). New regulations were passed by the government in regard to vehicle behavior vis-a-vis the light rail.
Operations were affected by a labor dispute in 2011. In May 2012, security personnel complained of poor working condition and lack of transparency from their employers—allegations which were denied by the security company.
Standard fares in New Israeli shekels are:.
|Type||Full fare||Reduced fare|
|15-trip (students & eligible only)||69.00||–|
|Unlimited monthly pass||246.00||123.50|
|Student pass (semester)||–||Semester A: 582.00; semester B: 646.00|
|Student pass (yearly)||–||1,410.00|
|Source: CityPass, Egged (for the current regional Student pass fares)|
Reduced fares are available for senior citizens (men 65+, women 60+), youth (18−), students owned "Student pass" (of other regions in Israel), the blind and those with approval by the Ministry of Welfare. One child under 5 with an adult rides for free. Israeli soldiers travel for free, under a special agreement between the Defense Ministry and the railway's operator, as do uniformed police officers. Fare required for un-collapsible baby carriages between 7–10 am and 3–7 pm and all day Fridays and holiday eves. Collapsible bicycles are permitted at all hours. Muzzled small dogs capable of sitting in rider's lap or being held are permitted.
Budgetary problems and criticism against the operator
The financial management of the project was criticized in May 2008 by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, who reported a 128% deviation in funds, from an estimated NIS 500 million to NIS 1.14 billion. It was also noted that the government had spent NIS 1.2 billion on the project up to 2007, which pointed to a further deviation. The total cost of the initial line (not including the planned extensions) is estimated at 3.8 billion NIS (approx. US $1.1 billion).
In 2002, the government of Israel signed an agreement with the operator, CityPass, regarding the future operation of the light rail. The agreement was made public in 2012, and generated controversy over a clause where the government pledged to remove competition to the light rail from other public transportation. For instance, there would not be two consecutive bus stops on the same line adjacent to the light rail's route. CityPass stated that before the light rail there had not been competition either, with all public transportation being operated by Egged.
Upon buying a ticket, each traveler is required to validate it inside the rail car, and the fine for not doing so (or not buying a ticket) is NIS 186. This has created considerable controversy, and CityPass has been accused of handing out fines indiscriminately in order to raise its income—the company made NIS 2.4 million in the first half year on fines. Litigative and legislative efforts have been made to curb CityPass's power in this regard. An appeal committee will be created to deal with requests to cancel fines.
Air pollution and effects on traffic
The project was also criticized for increasing air pollution in Jerusalem during construction. However, it was credited with reducing air pollution on Jaffa Road by 80% when the latter was converted to an LRT-only way. In October 2010, residents of Jerusalem filed a NIS 1.2 billion class-action lawsuit against CityPass for the effects of the traffic congestion that the project's construction created, but the Jerusalem district court ruled that the company could only be sued for air and noise pollution. Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem, was also critical of the congestion. In March 2009, he proposed canceling the project after the first two lines were completed and replacing the rest of the planned rail network with buses. The closure of Jaffa Street has diverted the bus traffic to a nearby street causing a rise in traffic accidents there.
Controversy outside Israel
The project was criticized because the route passes through territories that Israel captured during the Six-Day War and occupied since, and annexed and incorporated into the Jerusalem Municipality, such as French Hill and Pisgat Ze'ev, whose status is controversial. In consequence, Dutch bank ASN divested from Veolia Environnement Both Veolia and Alstom were sued by the Palestine Liberation Organisation and French advocacy group Association France-Palestine Solidarité in the French courts. In 2013, the Versailles Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the French companies, and ordered the Palestinian groups to pay $117,000 in legal costs to the French companies. In the 32-page verdict, the judges ruled that the light rail did not violate international law.
In May 2009 it was reported that the Palestinian Authority had been urging Saudi Arabia through back channels to pressure Alstom and Veolia to abandon the project in return for the multi-billion dollar Haramain High Speed Rail Project project and the $25 billion Gulf Railway project. The contract for the Haramain project was eventually awarded to a rival bidder. In November 2009, under the banner of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), Palestinian organizations launched a campaign on the six Gulf Cooperation Council states to withhold lucrative contracts for the Gulf railway project from the two companies unless they comply with demands to withdraw from the Jerusalem project. Veolia decided to sell its interests in the light railway, first to Dan Bus Company in 2009, and later to Egged, as part of a strategy to exit the transportation market. Veolia's interest in the Jerusalem Light Rail, together with its other transport business, was injected in 2011 in new subsidiary Veolia Transdev, jointly owned by Veolia and French financial institution Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations. After poor financial results, Veolia announced in December 2011 that it intended to exit the transport sector altogether and sell its stake in Veolia Transdev.
In a 2009 report, the United Nations Human Rights Council described the Jerusalem Light Rail as infrastructure servicing settlements. The following year, the Human Rights Council condemned the decision to operate a tramway between West Jerusalem and Pisgat Ze'ev in violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. The Council resolution was adopted with 46 votes in favor and 1 against (USA).
In the United Kingdom, an Early Day Motion was tabled in parliament in 2012 against the financing of illegal activity in the West Bank. After referring to the Jerusalem Light Rail, the motion called on the UK government to support EU legislation to ensure "that economic operators aiding and abetting the building, maintenance or servicing of illegal Israeli settlements be excluded from public contracts in the EU".
While tracks for the light rail were being laid in Shuafat, the remains of an ancient Roman–Jewish settlement were discovered. The settlement was described as a "sophisticated community impeccably planned by the Roman authorities, with orderly rows of houses and two fine public bathhouses to the north". The findings are said be the first indication of active Jewish settlement in the Jerusalem area after the city fell in 70 CE.
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This light road system is an ongoing system, and Israel plans to have it for years to come
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jerusalem Light Rail.|
- CityPass Operator's website
- Governmental Website
- Jerusalem Light Rail on urbanrail.net
- From Mule Tracks to Light Rail Transit Tracks: Integrating Modern Infrastructure into an Ancient City — Jerusalem, Israel
- Trains at both ends of the route on Google Street View: