Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit will present his plans today for a rail link between Haifa and Irbid, Jordan, including a branch line to Jenin.
Sheetrit will announce his plans at a conference of transportation ministers for the Mediterranean area at Marrakesh, Morocco. Such a grand plan would be financed by the European Union, which is interested in investing some 300 million euro in joint transportation projects among Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
The EU is also behind today's conflab, where Sheetrit will have the opportunity to discuss transportation matters with his counterparts from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey and the PA.
Running a rail track from Israel to Jordan, and even beyond, is an extension of the Valley rail track which was approved by the National Infrastructure Committee recently, and which will rejuvenate the Ottoman line from Haifa to Beit She'an. The original track, launched a century ago in 1905, continued on to Damascus.
Sheetrit firmly believes that all sides share a common goal of growth. "Transportation infrastructure is critical in promoting economic growth," he said. Sheetrit also pointed out that a Haifa-Irbid rail link would offer a more attractive land link to Haifa port, than the current choice of trucks.
Made in Israel too
Israel Railways took possession yesterday of the first shipment of double decker railway carriages assembled entirely in Israel. The cars were assembled in Be'er Sheva by Ramta, a division of Israel Aircraft Industries, in a joint venture with Canadian rolling stock manufacturer Bombardier.
The Ramta facility was expanded at a cost of $10 million for this order, which numbers some 54 double decker carriages to meet Railways' growing demand. The assembly line has a capacity of rolling off one carriage every four days. "It's a great day for Israel Railways and Israeli industries," said Yossi Dekel, head of Bombardier Israel. "All the railcars were assembled in Israel, and 29 of them are specifically tailored to be disabled friendly."