The new train line from Haifa into the Jezreel Valley in northeast Israel had its first test run on Monday.
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The Valley line partially revives the Mediterranean portion of the defunct Hejaz Railway, which ran from Haifa to Damascus at the beginning of the 20th century.
The train line will start limited service on October 16, with stops in Yokne’am-Kfar Yehoshua, Migdal Ha’emek-Kfar Baruch, Afula and Beit She'an. Two additional stations at Haifa Bay and Nesher will open at a later date.
The 60-kilometer train line includes 26 bridges and 3 tunnels and is being built at a cost of 4 billion shekels.
In the future, the state plans to extend the line up to the Jordanian border and connect it to the Jordanian train network via the Allenby Bridge border crossing.
A temporary cargo terminal is being built near the Beit She'an station ahead of the construction of a permanent one across from Sde Nahum. The terminal is slated to serve cargo trains from the east on their way to the Haifa port, from where the goods can depart for Europe.
The project will require cooperation from the Jordanians, who will need to extend their tracks up to the border. Sources in Israel’s transportation sector say the Jordanians are very interested in the project.
Sources hope the new train line will ease cargo traffic on Israel’s overburdened coastal train line and will also ease truck traffic on the country’s roads.
Transportation Minister Israel Katz announced that passengers with Rav Kav transportation cards will be able to travel from the new stations to all stops around the country until the line becomes fully operational in November.