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Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in 28 minutes

Plans for high-speed train station in the capital revealed, 'HaUma' terminal will also serve as nuclear shelter

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: IDF soldiers boarding a train. (Shay Levy/Flash90)
Illustrative: IDF soldiers boarding a train. (Shay Levy/Flash90)

The Transportation Ministry and Israel Railways were set to publish Thursday a tender for the construction of a new high-speed train station next to Jerusalem’s central bus station. The station is part of a NIS 7 billion ($1.9 billion) project to build a high-speed rail line that will carry passengers between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in only 28 minutes.

“HaUma” station will be 80 meters deep, and will also serve as an atomic bomb shelter for up to 2,000 people in emergencies, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

The station will feature four 300-meter long platforms, which commuters can reach via escalators, and 35-person elevators. It will eventually be part of the largest transportation hub in the country, stretching from the International Convention Center to the Central Bus Station. The terminal will include bus stops, the train station, two light rail stops, taxi stands, and more than 1,000 parking spots. Streets that currently pass through the area will be sunk underground.

The high-speed train will pass by Modiin, Latrun, and Ben-Gurion Airport, and will run four times an hour during rush hour.

The electric trains will travel 160 km/h on the line. According to the Transportation Ministry, the project includes a number of impressive architectural feats. The 680 engineers working on the line are creating Israel’s longest and tallest viaducts, as well as a double tunnel more than 11 kilometers long.

Despite excitement over the project, it has not been without its share of controversy. Environmental groups tried to force the planners to build a tunnel under the Yitlah stream instead of passing over it with a bridge. The Interior Ministry’s Planning Commission decided that the tunnel would hold up the project for at least two years, and ruled in favor of Israel Railways.

The line also crosses the Green Line twice, once near Latrun and once near Mevasseret Zion, inviting criticism from the Israeli left and pro-Palestinian groups internationally. A German company advising the project withdrew in the face of pressure from pro-Palestinian activists.

Cost overruns delayed the project as well. The initial estimate of NIS 3.8 billion soon rose by billions of shekels, requiring additional government investment in the line.

The system is expected to be operational by the end of 2017.

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