Ending wait, express train begins to chug between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

Passengers will now be able to make journey in about 30 minutes, though rail will only reach Tel Aviv’s Hagana station for now

The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train seen seen outside of Jerusalem, December 22, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train seen seen outside of Jerusalem, December 22, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

It thought it could, and it finally did. A decade late and a few stops short, the express train between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv began carrying passengers between the two cities Saturday night.

At 9:56 p.m. trains in both Tel Aviv’s Hagana station and Jerusalem’s Yitzhak Navon terminal began chugging along, successfully making the 50-kilometer journey in around 30 minutes.

On Sunday morning, the long-awaited train will begin running at full capacity every hour, though the line will only go as far as Hagana in southern Tel Aviv and not reach stations in the center and north of the city.

Authorities believe the trains will reach other Tel Aviv stations and Herzliya sometime next year.

The train opened in 2018 after years of delays, but only took riders between Jerusalem and Ben-Gurion airport, as the railway worked on electrifying the line all the way to Tel Aviv. Riders were forced to switch trains at the airport, adding some 20 minutes to the journey.

Commuters at the newly built Yitzhak Navon train station in Jerusalem, September 25, 2018. (Aharon Krohn/Flash90)

The train replaces a Mandate-era rail that for decades wound its way between Tel Aviv and southern Jerusalem via scenic, but slow, mountain passes, taking nearly two hours to make the journey.

The original launch date for the express train was 2008, eleven years ago. It was then repeatedly delayed, to 2014, 2018 and again to 2018 and to this year. The launching of the Jerusalem-Ben Gurion line, in October 2018, was marred by countless malfunctions, delays and shutdowns.

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