Jerusalem Light Rail | Wikipedia audio article
Articles, Blog

Jerusalem Light Rail | Wikipedia audio article

October 11, 2019


The Jerusalem Light Rail (Hebrew: הרכבת
הקלה בירושלים‎, HaRakevet HaKala Birushalayim) is a light rail system in Jerusalem,
Israel. Currently, the Red Line is the only one in operation, the first of several light
rail lines planned in Jerusalem. Construction on the Red line began in 2002
and ended in 2010, when the testing phase began. It was built by the CityPass consortium,
which has a 30-year concession to operate it. The project required construction of the
Jerusalem Chords Bridge as well as other renovation projects around Jerusalem.
After repeated delays due to archaeological discoveries and technical issues, service
began, initially free of charge, on August 19, 2011. It became fully operational on December
1, 2011. The line is 13.9 kilometers (8.6 mi) long with 23 stops. Extensions to the
red line are currently under construction to the northern suburb of Neve Yaakov and
to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital to the southwest. When completed in 2021, these will extend
the line’s length to 22.5 km.With a total estimated cost for the Red Line’s initial
section of ₪3.8 billion (approx. US $1.1 billion), the project was criticized for budget
overruns, for its route serving Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and for contributing to
air and noise pollution during construction.The Green line’s plans have been approved by the
city of Jerusalem, with right-of-way clearing works underway and construction tenders, including
those for the red line extension, currently in the bidding process, while the approval
process on the Blue line has started.==History==
In ancient times, Jerusalem was a point on the Ridge Route, also known as the Way of
the Patriarchs, centrally located between the Via Maris (along the coast to the west)
and the King’s Highway (east of the River Jordan). The primary roads led to the gates
of the Old City, such as the Jaffa Gate and the Damascus Gate. It was along these roads
that the city grew when it expanded beyond the walls of the Old City in the 19th century,
the major thoroughfares of the city thus becoming the Jaffa Road, leading to the west in the
direction of the coastal plain, the watershed routes (Ridge Route) leading north to Ramallah,
Nablus, and Damascus, and south to Bethlehem and Hebron, and one to the east to Jericho.Early
plans for an electric tramway were drawn up by a Greek Lebanese engineer, George Franjieh,
in 1892, who had been involved in planning the Jaffa–Jerusalem railway. The tram would
connect the city with Ein Karem and Bethlehem. In 1910, a tender for a tramway was published
by the Ottoman authorities.In 1918, the British Army built a rail system linking the German
Colony with Al-Bireh, on the outskirts of Ramallah, traversing Jerusalem along a winding
route. It was built by Rail Builders Company 272 of the British Royal Engineers, commanded
by Colonel Jordan Bell, with some 850 Egyptian and local Arab laborers, about half of them
women. The railway was used by the British army, and for a few months it supplied Allenby’s
troops. It was dismantled shortly after the front moved northward in late 1918. Some of
the city’s streets may have been paved along its route.In the 1970s, when traffic congestion
mounted in the city center, proposals were discussed for widening the main roads. In
1996, the government approved new plans for an integrated network relying on rapid transit,
including a light rail system and bus rapid transit.==Construction==
In the 1990s, a light rail system was proposed as a means of providing faster and less polluting
public transit through the heart of the city, and reversing the decline of certain central
areas. CityPass, a specially formed consortium, won a 30-year concession to build and operate
Line 1 (the “Red Line”). CityPass consists of financiers Harel (20%), Polar Investments
(17.5%) and the Israel Infrastructure Fund (10%), constructors Ashtrom (27.5%) and engineers
Alstom (20%), plus service operators – Connex (5%).However, the principal agreement with
the Dan Bus Company did not materialize. Veolia entered another principal agreement with Egged.
Veolia sold its stake in CityPass and its shares in the contract for the maintenance
of the light rail to Egged. The contract stipulates that Veolia would provide consultancy services
to Egged until the company acquired the necessary expertise. Dan Bus Company has taken Veolia
to court for exiting the principal agreement.Construction of Line 1 began in 2002 by DTC (Dutch tramway
company). Dubbed the “Red Line”, it initially has 23 stations on a new 1,435 mm (4 ft 8
1⁄2 in) (standard gauge) twin-track 13.8 kilometres (8.6 mi) alignment. It runs from
Pisgat Ze’ev in north-east Jerusalem, south along Road 1 (intercity) to Jaffa Road (Rehov
Yaffo). From there, it runs along Jaffa Road westward to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station,
and continues to the southwest, crossing the Chords Bridge along Herzl Boulevard to the
Beit HaKerem neighborhood, finishing just beyond Mount Herzl at the northern edge of
Bayit VeGan. The first test run for this route was on February 24, 2010. The laying of the
railroad tracks was completed on June 15, 2010.===Delays===
Inauguration of the light rail service was postponed four times. The initial date was
January 2009, deferred to August 2010 due to funding problems and lack of staff. When
it was announced that signals for the trains was not compatible with Israeli stop light
systems, CityPass was given until April 2011, but after the problem persisted and other
safety issues were not resolved, an August 2011 date was settled on, and service was
to begin without giving priority to trains at traffic lights. As a result, travel time
for the full route began at 80 minutes instead of the planned 42, until final synchronization
of the lights is completed. When the light rail started operating on Friday, August 19,
2011, there were also air conditioning issues and electrical and communications problems,
one of them making trains suddenly “disappear” and then “reappear” on the screens of the
control center near French Hill. In addition to these mishaps, the computerized ticketing
system collapsed a few days before the inauguration. After arbitration between CityPass and government
officials, it was decided that the trains would begin limited operation as scheduled.
During the trial period, only 14 of the 21 trains were put into operation, departing
every 21 minutes, and travel was free of charge. Full revenue service began on December 1,
2011.===Development along the route===As part of the light rail project, CityPass
plans to install blind-friendly traffic lights along the route, and has developed a number
of sites along the route, such as Davidka Square. In late 2009, trees were planted along
the line. The species selected were deemed suitable to the Jerusalem climate, hardy enough
to withstand the city’s cold winters while providing shade in summer. Over 3,500 trees
were planted along the route in 2009–11. The genera include platanus, ash and types
of oak. In March 2011, however, the Ministry of Transportation objected to having trees
adjacent to the route, due to visibility problems.===Chords Bridge===The Chords Bridge is a cantilever spar cable-stayed
bridge designed by the Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, built for the
light rail, close to the most frequently used entrance to Jerusalem, in the neighborhood
of Kiryat Moshe. The bridge carries the trams in a grade separated manner over a busy road
intersection. Incorporated in the bridge is a glass-sided pedestrian crossing, enabling
pedestrians to cross unimpeded from the Kiryat Moshe area to the Central Bus Station grounds.
The bridge, which cost about $70 million (NIS 246 million), was inaugurated on June 25,
2008.==Integrated transportation plans=====
Bus and train connection===The Jerusalem Central Bus Station is slated
to become a major passenger transportation hub. The Jerusalem Binyanei HaUma Railway
Station has begun operation for the new high-speed railway to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and Ben
Gurion Airport. Passengers will also be able to board the existing intercity bus services
at the station. A park and ride facility was built near Mount
Herzl, consisting of a multi-storey car park with the first line terminal on its roof,
which is actually at the street level of Herzl Boulevard. An additional parking lot was erected
adjacent to the Ammunition Hill stop.===Extension plans===
The Jerusalem Municipality has plans to build eight bus rapid transit (BRT) and light rail
lines across the city. Extensions of the red line are under construction
in both directions: to Neve Yaakov in the North and to Kiryat Menachem in the South.
A further extension to the Ein Kerem campus of Hadassah Medical Center is planned. This
extension will include an underground section without stops west of Ora junction.====Red line====Initial extensions to the Red Line were planned
to the neighborhoods of Neve Yaakov in Northeastern Jerusalem and Ein Karem (near Hadassah Hospital)
in the Southwest. Former mayor Uri Lupolianski stated that they would be completed at the
same time as the rest of the line. In 2008, French company Egis Rail won an 11.9 million
Euro contract to carry out some of the design work. However, in March 2009, CityPass turned
down implementing the project. In May 2010 the Jerusalem Municipality announced that
the extensions would be built by the state authorities rather than a private company.
The extension to Hadassah Hospital from Mount Herzl is particularly challenging and will
involve a complex path with complicated bridging works. As of summer 2012, while works on the
extension have not begun, the line’s final terminal station, next to Hadassah’s new inpatient
building is nevertheless being built during the construction of the inpatient building
– in order not to disrupt hospital operations later after the new building will be completed.
Also planned are branches to the Red Line that would create a “campus line” connecting
the Mount Scopus and Givat Ram campuses of the Hebrew University.====Blue line====
The blue line from Ramot to Gilo is currently served by buses moving on a dedicated bus
lane, and is planned to be converted to light rail. It will include an underground section
in the city center with three underground stops: Mea Shearim, Tzfania and Bar Ilan.
The 23 km Blue Line will run from the Ramot district in the northwest, through the city
centre up to Talpiot and Gilo, with branches to Malkha and Mount Scopus. It will have 42
stops and ridership is predicted at 250 000 passengers/day. The Blue line, scheduled to
open in 2023, was approved on December 3, 2017 by the district committee for planning
and construction.====Green line====The 19·6 km Green line will link the two
campuses of the Hebrew University and continue south via Pat junction to Gilo. It will pass
the Binyanei-Hauma terminus of the A1 fast line railway, then cross the existing Red
Line tram route and run to Mount Scopus. There would be 36 stops, and ridership is predicted
at 200 000 passengers/day. The line was approved by the Jerusalem city council in June 2016.
Infrastructure tenders have been issued.===North–south BRT line===The first bus rapid transit (BRT) line, a
feeder line to the Light Rail, is a dedicated bus line running along Hebron Road in south
Jerusalem, northwards to Keren HaYesod Street, and from there to King George V Street, where
it crosses the path of the light rail and continues along Straus Street towards Kikar
HaShabbat to Yehezkel Street and Shmuel HaNavi Street, towards Golda Meir Boulevard in the
direction of Ramot. Buses on this route are operated by the Egged Transportation Cooperative.
Tour buses, Arab buses and mini-buses that run from the Damascus Gate also use the line.
The bus stops on this route have been designed to match the tram stops on the Red Line.==Rolling stock==
Initial rolling stock consists of 46 Citadis 302 100% low-floor five-module units manufactured
at Alstom’s Aytré factory. All axles are driven to handle gradients up to 9%. The first
car was delivered via the Port of Ashdod in September 2007.
The maintenance and storage depot is on a 10 acres (40,000 m2) site near French Hill
in northern East Jerusalem. The route and vehicles are monitored from the control center,
and trams are driven under line-of-sight principles with built-in priority at many road intersections.
The fare collection and ticketing system is supplied by Affiliated Computer Services.==Operation==The French-based company Veolia Transport,
which held 5% of CityPass’s shares, was originally meant to operate the light rail. However,
due to pressure from groups united in the Derail Veolia campaign, operating within the
context of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, in September 2009 Veolia agreed
to sell part of its share in the project to the Dan Bus Company for $15–20 million.
The sale was however unsuccessful, and Veolia agreed in October 2010 to sell its stake to
Egged instead. As of December 2011, the sale to Egged was reported to have been held up
by the Israeli state.Travel over the complete Red line is due to take 42 minutes from Pisgat
Ze’ev at one end to Mount Herzl at the other (as of August 2012, the travel time is 46
minutes). The line operates Sunday through Thursday, from 5:30 am to 11:30 pm, on Friday
up to an hour before sundown and not during the Shabbat or Jewish holidays, resuming half
an hour after Shabbat or the Holiday ends. Commencing August 2, 2015, frequency will
be every 3 minutes during rush hours and every 6 minutes in the daytime and at night. It
is expected to carry up to 23,000 passengers an hour during peak morning rush hours. The
light rail operates at a maximum speed of 50 km/h (31 mph). New regulations were passed
by the government in regard to vehicle behavior vis-a-vis the light rail.Operations were affected
by a labor dispute in 2011. In May 2012, security personnel complained of poor working condition
and lack of transparency from their employers—allegations which were denied by the security company.===Fares===
Standard fares in Shekels are: Reduced fares are available for senior citizens
(men 65+, women 60+), youth (under 18 or who are studying in class XII to the end of the
school year), students owned “Student pass” (of other regions in Israel), the blind and
those with approval by the Ministry of Welfare. One child under 5 with an adult rides for
free. Israeli soldiers travel for free, under a special agreement between the Defense Ministry
and the railway’s operator, as do uniformed police officers. Fare required for un-collapsible
baby carriages between 7–10 am and 3–7 pm and all day Fridays and holiday eves. Collapsible
bicycles are permitted at all hours. Muzzled small dogs capable of sitting in rider’s lap
or being held are permitted.===Ridership=====
Controversy=====
Budgetary problems and criticism of operator===The financial management of the project was
criticized in May 2008 by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, who reported a 128% deviation
in funds, from an estimated NIS 500 million to NIS 1.14 billion. It was also noted that
the government had spent NIS 1.2 billion on the project up to 2007, which pointed to a
further deviation. The total cost of the initial line (not including the planned extensions)
is estimated at 3.8 billion NIS (approx. US $1.1 billion).In 2002, the government of Israel
signed an agreement with the operator, CityPass, regarding the future operation of the light
rail. The agreement was made public in 2012, and generated controversy over a clause where
the government pledged to remove competition to the light rail from other public transportation.
For instance, there would not be two consecutive bus stops on the same line adjacent to the
light rail’s route. CityPass stated that before the light rail there had not been competition
either, with all public transportation being operated by Egged. Upon buying a ticket, each traveler is required
to validate it inside the rail car, and the fine for not doing so (or not buying a ticket)
is NIS 186. This has created considerable controversy, and CityPass has been accused
of handing out fines indiscriminately in order to raise its income—the company made NIS
2.4 million in the first half year on fines. Litigative and legislative efforts have been
made to curb CityPass’s power in this regard. An appeal committee will be created to deal
with requests to cancel fines.In 2012 Haviv Rettig Gur criticized CityPass for automatically
expiring single ride tickets at the end of the day they were purchased even if they were
never used. CityPass does not provide refunds. Rettig Gur wrote “Though I have no proof,
I am convinced the expiration policy is intentional.” As of 2015 this policy still remains in place.
Pinchas M. Orbach identified a technical issue where a customer would not be able to use
a legitimate transfer. He wrote “The CityPass Rav Kav system is unable to properly read
a ’90 minute transfer from Egged’ if a new virtual punch card was purchased on the Rav
Kav in between the original Egged ride and the Light Rail ride.” Therefore, even if a
passenger was traveling within the 90 minutes allowed for free transfers an inspector using
CityPass equipment to read the Rav Kav would erroneously believe the fare was not paid
and issue a fine. CityPass did not respond to the report nor fix the problem.===Air pollution and effects on traffic===
The project was also criticized for increasing air pollution in Jerusalem during construction.
However, it was credited with reducing air pollution on Jaffa Road by 80% when the latter
was converted to an LRT-only way. In October 2010, residents of Jerusalem filed a NIS 1.2
billion class-action lawsuit against CityPass for the effects of the traffic congestion
that the project’s construction created, but the Jerusalem district court ruled that the
company could only be sued for air and noise pollution. Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem,
was also critical of the congestion. In March 2009, he proposed canceling the project after
the first two lines were completed and replacing the rest of the planned rail network with
buses. The closure of Jaffa Street has diverted the bus traffic to a nearby street causing
a rise in traffic accidents there.===Controversy outside Israel===
The project was criticized because the Red Line route passes through territories Israel
has held under occupation since the Six-Day War to service Israeli settlements such as
French Hill and Pisgat Ze’ev. In consequence, Dutch bank ASN divested from Veolia Environnement.
Both Veolia and Alstom were sued by the Palestine Liberation Organisation and French advocacy
group Association France-Palestine Solidarité in the French courts. In 2013, the Versailles
Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the French companies, and ordered the Palestinian groups
to pay $117,000 in legal costs to the French companies. In the 32-page verdict, the judges
ruled that the light rail did not violate international law. A large proportion of the
train’s passengers are Arabs.In May 2009 it was reported that the Palestinian Authority
had been urging Saudi Arabia through back channels to pressure Alstom and Veolia to
abandon the project in return for the multi-billion dollar Haramain High Speed Rail Project and
the $25 billion Gulf Railway project. The contract for the Haramain project was eventually
awarded to a rival bidder. In November 2009, under the banner of Boycott, Divestment and
Sanctions (BDS), Palestinian organizations launched a campaign on the six Gulf Cooperation
Council states to withhold lucrative contracts for the Gulf railway project from the two
companies unless they comply with demands to withdraw from the Jerusalem project. Veolia
decided to sell its interests in the light railway, first to Dan Bus Company in 2009,
and later to Egged, as part of a strategy to exit the transportation market. Veolia’s
interest in the Jerusalem Light Rail, together with its other transport business, was injected
in 2011 in new subsidiary Veolia Transdev, jointly owned by Veolia and French financial
institution Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations. After poor financial results, Veolia announced
in December 2011 that it intended to exit the transport sector altogether and sell its
stake in Veolia Transdev.In a 2009 report, the United Nations Human Rights Council described
the Jerusalem Light Rail as infrastructure servicing Israeli settlements. The following
year, the Human Rights Council condemned the decision to operate a tramway between west
Jerusalem and Pisgat Ze’ev “in violation of international law” and relevant United Nations
resolutions. The Council resolution was adopted with 46 votes in favor and 1 against (USA).In
the United Kingdom, an Early Day Motion was tabled in parliament in 2012 against the financing
of illegal activity in the West Bank. After referring to the Jerusalem Light Rail, the
motion called on the UK government to support EU legislation to ensure “that economic operators
aiding and abetting the building, maintenance or servicing of illegal Israeli settlements
be excluded from public contracts in the EU”.===July 2014 riots===
In July 2014, Arab rioters caused substantial damage to three stations in Arab neighborhoods
as well as other system infrastructure, and left graffiti with “Death to the Jews” and
other slogans. Rioting and incessant “rock attacks” inflicted on trains in the Beit Hanina
and Shuafat areas have made the train route subject to closures restricting passengers
to stations south of Givat HaMivtar. Damage to trains caused two-thirds of CityPass’ fleet
to be taken offline in an ongoing basis through October, 2014.==Archaeological findings==
While tracks for the light rail were being laid in Shuafat, the remains of an ancient
Roman–Jewish settlement were discovered. The settlement was described as a “sophisticated
community impeccably planned by the Roman authorities, with orderly rows of houses and
two fine public bathhouses to the north”. The findings are said be the first indication
of active Jewish settlement in the Jerusalem area after the city fell in 70 CE.==See also==
Tel Aviv Light Rail Carmelit

No Comments

Leave a Reply