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Israel Railways will shortly start work on constructing an additional platform and two tracks at the Haganah train station in Tel Aviv. The platform will serve passengers on existing trains and those planned for traveling east, such as the proposed trains to Ben-Gurion Airport and Jerusalem.

The platform will cost NIS 25 million and work is due to be completed in 16 months, according to Yossi Mor, the deputy director for infrastructure.

Some 200 trains per day currently stop at the Haganah station. Mor said that the additional platform and lines would make it possible to gradually increase this number to 300 per day in 2008. The Haganah station was opened to the public in June 2002.

According to figures released by Israel Railways, the station is used by 120,000 people per month. But it is not simple to reach the station by vehicle from the new central bus station, located some 400 meters away, with only a pedestrian walkway linking the two.

The railways have also completed detailed plans for laying a rail line from Tel Aviv, via Holon and Bat Yam, to Rishon Letzion west. The tenders for the first part of the line will be published in late 2004.

The line will cost a total of some NIS 1.2 billion and the changes to the highway, which will be borne by the railways, will amount to NIS 720 million.

One of the reasons the cost is so high is that, when the southern section of the highway was being paved, no suitable strip was left for railway tracks. In order for the line to run through the Kibbutz Galuyot junction, the Netivei Ayalon company will have to forgo use of one of the road-vehicle bridges that connects the highway from Holon and Bat Yam with the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway so that a bridge for the trains can be built close by.

In addition, it will be necessary to remove 20 electric pylons that were placed along the route some 25 years ago, from the Holon intersection to Moshe Dayan street in Rishon Letzion west. This is expected to cost some NIS 14 million and will be handled by the Israel Electric Corporation.

When work began on constructing the southern section of the Ayalon Highway in 1992 and 1993, railway sources repeatedly pointed out that there was no strip left for the train along the route since at that stage, the prefered alternative was for the train between Rishon and Tel Aviv to run through Mikve Yisrael. The sources said that the decision to lay the lines along the Ayalon South route was taken at a later stage, toward the end of the 1990s, when the construction work was at its height. That is why it was decided to make the changes now.