The National Infrastructure Planning Council announced Monday it had approved a project for a rail connection between Haifa and Tel Aviv that is expected to cut travel time between the two cities to just 30 minutes.
As part of the project, two underground lines will be added to the existing surface level routes in Haifa and will stop at four suburban stations, Lev Hamifrats, Kiryat Hamemshala, Bat Galit, and Hof Carmel. The current lines that stop at those stations will instead be dedicated to a fast train service running from Nahariya in the north to Tel Aviv, passing through Haifa.
The project is expected to cost NIS 12 billion ($3.9 billion)
Travel times are estimated to be 54 minutes from Nahariya to Tel Aviv instead of the hour and 40 minutes of today’s journey. Haifa to Tel Aviv, with one stop in Hadera, will be just half an hour.
Shlomi Heisler, chair of the planning council, said the project “will propel the entire Haifa metropolitan area forward, a fast and efficient electric train connection from the heart of the metropolis to the high-speed train network.”
“Today, the railway tracks are a buffer between Haifa and the sea, and the plan will allow the city of Haifa to be connected to its main asset — the sea,” he said.
Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem said the new lines will be “a real revolution for a city that is desperate to connect with its beach.”
The lines will use the next generation of electric trains planned for the country, which have not yet been put into use. The trains will be able to reach speeds of 250 kilometers per hour.
The current train route will continue to serve suburbs by stopping at existing stations.
The planning council said it preferred the underground routes rather than surface alternatives in part to prevent damaging open spaces in Haifa and impacting access to the seacoast and in order to free up land for residential building projects.
The Haifa municipality intends to raise some of the funding for the train line from the sale of residential real estate, the Walla news site reported.
The project aligns with the Israel Railways’ strategic plan to provide efficient rail networks between the country’s metropolises. The rail company predicts that by 2040 there will be 350 million travelers a year on the country’s trains.