The fast railway line between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem took its maiden run two years late Wednesday morning, as a train plied the entire length of track for the first time.
The rail line is slated to open to passenger traffic on Saturday night, with service twice an hour in each direction. The train will run only until Tel Aviv’s southernmost station, Hagana, even though the initial plan was to have the track electrified and operational through Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv.
Passengers on the first train included Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich and his predecessor Israel Katz and the former Israel Railways CEO.
The track is becoming operational two years later than planned; for the previous 15 months, it has been in a “trial phase,” as Katz put it. Passengers could board the train in Jerusalem but would have to get off halfway, at Ben-Gurion International Airport, and switch trains for the remaining service to Tel Aviv.
The decision to declare the train line open a year ago drew criticism that it was motivated by political considerations, including the approaching election.
The current plan is to have the line through Herzliya finished within about a year and a half.
Each train will have space for about 1,000 passengers.