|Website||Carmelit (in Hebrew and English)|
|Opening||1959, reopened after renovation in 1992|
|Operator(s)||Ha Carmelit Haifa ltd.|
|Rolling stock||4 Von Roll funicular cars
2 per train
|Line length||1.8 km (1.1 mi)|
|No. of tracks||1|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Operating speed||28 km/h (17 mph)|
|Highest elevation||268 m (879 ft) above sea level|
The Carmelit (Hebrew: כַּרְמְלִית) is an underground funicular railway in Haifa, Israel. Construction started in 1956 and ended in 1959. The Carmelit was closed in 1986 after showing signs of aging and reopened in September 1992 after extensive renovations.
Because much of Haifa is built on top of Mount Carmel, the Carmelit (named after this mountain) is an underground funicular that goes up and down the mountain. The altitude difference between the first and last stations is 274 meters (899 feet). Carmelit cars have a slanted design, with steps within each car and on the station platform. Since the gradient varies along the route, the floor of each car is never quite level, and slopes slightly "uphill" or "downhill" depending on the location.
The Carmelit is one of the smallest subway systems in the world, having only four cars, six stations and a single tunnel 1.8 km (1.1 mi) long. The four cars operate as two two-car trains, which run on single track with a short double-track section to allow the trains to cross.
Although it is not the smallest subway in the world—the Istanbul Tünel, with two stations and 573 meters (1,880 feet) long, is smaller. However, since Istanbul also has a newer and bigger (though separate) subway system, the Carmelit is sometimes still mentioned as the smallest subway in the world.
The Carmelit today
The small number of stations means that the Carmelit serves only a small part of Haifa – which was the important population and business center at the time it was designed. Nowadays, the vast majority of Haifa's population does not live close to any of the stations, making it very lightly used. There have been talks of extending its tunnels to reach more population centers, but such an extension has not been done, primarily for fiscal reasons. The most widely used public transportation system in Haifa is Egged buses, which cover most of the city.
Haifa's comptroller wrote in his 2004 report (published in 2005) about the declining use of the Carmelit. According to the report, the Carmelit is used by only 2,000 passengers each day, and has been losing money ever since being reopened in 1992. The accrued losses between 1992 and 2003 are over 191 million New Israeli Shekels.
The Carmelit is the only subway in Israel. The Jerusalem Light Rail began operation in 2011, while major construction on Tel Aviv's light rail, much of which will be underground, commenced in 2011. In Haifa, an extensive BRT system called the Metronit is being built, which will have stops at a few Carmelit stations. It is hoped that this will increase ridership on the Carmelit after the Metronit system begins operating in 2012.
As of October 31, 2010, it is possible to take a bicycle on the Carmelit, without extra cost.
The Carmelit has six stations, going downhill:
- Gan HaEm ("the mother's garden"): in the Carmel Center neighborhood, adjacent to the Haifa zoo, a panoramic promenade, the Haifa Auditorium, and many shops and hotels.
- Bnei Zion ("the sons of Zion"): in Golomb street, near the Bnei Zion (Rothschild) hospital and the Bahá'í World Centre.
- Massada, upper Hadar HaCarmel: near Massada and Nordau streets, with their galleries, antique shops, cafés and restaurants. Close to the science museum.
- HaNevi'im ("the prophets"), Hadar HaCarmel: Near HaNevi'im, Herzl and HeHalutz streets, and their shops and offices. Close to the Haifa museum.
- Solel Boneh: near HaNevi'im tower, HaAtzmaut park, and Haifa city hall.
- Kikar Pariz (Paris Square), Downtown: near government building and courthouse, HaAtzmaut Street, walking distance to Haifa Center Railway Station.
- Sunday–Thursday: 06:00–22:00.
- Friday and holiday eves: 06:00–15:00.
- Saturday: 19:00–24:00.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Carmelit.|
- Official Carmelit website in English.
- Map of Carmelit route and area around it (in English)
- Pictures of Carmelit stations and cars
- Entrances to all stations on Google Street View, top-down: