Israel Railways Shunts Approved Plans Into Sidings

Despite the current fad of finance and transport ministers for promoting train travel, the State Comptroller accuses Israel Railways of failing to deliver on its long-term plans, or even lay new tracks already approved.

Israel Railways' feasibility studies were not conducted properly - if at all - and passenger figures had not met targets, the comptroller's report says. Israel Railways had approved a development plan for 2005, and for 2020, based on feasibility studies and a projected passenger base of 133,000 a day. In practice, the comptroller says, only 44,000 traveled by train each day on the entire rail network in 2000, barely a third of the projections.

He says one reason for this was the fact that the lines mentioned in the long-term plans have not been laid. A line planned from Rishon Letzion to Tel Aviv, following the Ayalon river course and with seven stations along the 14-kilometer route has still not yet been built, even though a feasibility study showed it would be economically worthwhile.

Six years after it was decided to lay the new line, Israel Railways had still not decided on the best route for it, the comptroller reports.