Service on the high-speed rail line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, which had been due to begin at the end of March, is now expected to be delayed until September.
In a notice to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Israel Railways explained that the service was being delayed because “the required regulatory approvals to operate the line for commercial passenger use have not yet been received.”
As recently as a few months ago, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz was still saying that service, which is due to cut travel time between Israel’s two largest cities to 28 minutes, would begin in late March just before the Passover holiday.
It is possible, however, that the line will be officially dedicated in March with only special trips authorized rather than regular service. The postponement is just the latest in a series of delays for a line that was initially planned to open in 2008 and the budget for which has doubled to 7 billion shekels ($2 billion).
At a meeting this week between Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and Israel Railways CEO Shahar Ayalon, it was said the line was still far from meeting the safety requirements of emergency rescue services.
Israel Railways said test runs have begun and steps are being taken to allow the Jerusalem station to open. “Commercial traffic on the line is due to open only after all of the measures required by the Israel Police are completed in several more months,” the railway said.