Two weeks after issuing the first tender to revive the legendary Jezreel Valley railway, a second project of the "Netivei Israel" plan to link the north and south with the rest of the country is already underway. On Thursday, the Israel National Roads Company (formerly the Public Works Department, known by its Hebrew acronym "Ma'atz" ) issued its first tender for construction of a rail line linking Acre and Carmiel. Train service between the two northern cities is slated to commence in five years.

The plan calls for a double 23-kilometer track to be laid parallel to Highway 85, linking the cities. Approved by the government last year for a total estimated cost of NIS 2.8 billion, the project will include two new train stations, at Moshav Ahihud (in the Western Galilee ) and at the entrance to Carmiel, and the construction of several bridges and tunnels.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said last Wednesday that he wants the line to eventually extend to Kiryat Shmona, although this hasn't yet been approved. Shai Baras, the CEO of INRC, added that the track from Acre to Carmiel is designed to allow trains to run at a speed of 160 kilometers per hour.

The Acre-Carmiel project will include four tenders for infrastructure and two tenders for building the stations. The first tender, announced Thursday and estimated at NIS 100 million, is for the construction of a 6.5-kilometer stretch between Na'aman, the western end of the line, and Yasif junction.

This first project will include building bridges over the Na'aman and Hilazon streams, diverting the latter over the course of 900 meters, and raising Highway 4 for a length of 1.2 kilometers above the planned train tracks.

On Thursday, the INRC also issued its second tender for the Jezreel Valley railway - a 60-kilometer line between Haifa and Beit She'an, which will involve laying 7.5 kilometers of track between stations planned for Kfar Yehoshua and Kfar Baruch (near Migdal Ha'emek ).

This move comes only two weeks after the company issued its previous tender, for preparing a 6.5-kilometer stretch of the rail line between Kfar Baruch and Adashim Stream (just outside Afula ).

INRC chairman and former Knesset member Micha Goldman said the project is part of the government's population dispersal policy, adding "Ma'atz is proud to share the news that there will be railways to the Galilee and the Jezreel Valley."