Jerusalem fast train grinds to a halt due to new technical faults
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Jerusalem fast train grinds to a halt due to new technical faults

Service to and from airport resumes after two-hour pause, in the second disruption in as many days

View of the new Tel Aviv-Jerusalem fast train seen over the Ha'Arazim valley just outside of Jerusalem, September 25, 2018 (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
View of the new Tel Aviv-Jerusalem fast train seen over the Ha'Arazim valley just outside of Jerusalem, September 25, 2018 (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The Jerusalem to Ben Gurion airport fast train service, rolled out as the first stage in a high-speed connection between the capital and the coast, was brought to a standstill Monday morning in the latest of recurring problems afflicting the line.

The hold-up was caused by a technical fault, Hebrew media reported.

Services were resumed after a delay of two hours.

On Sunday Israel Railways temporarily reduced the twice-hourly service to just one train an hour because of a fault with one of the electric locomotives.

Passengers have suffered through numerous hiccups and delays since the new electric line opened in September, including last week, when all services were stopped for an hour due to technical issues.

In another incident, travelers reported being stuck in a tunnel for 25 minutes shortly after leaving the capital’s new Yitzhak Navon Station.

The original estimated completion date for the line passed years ago. Then the opening was delayed by five months.

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

Plans were for the trains to run directly from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, but due to delays in electrifying the line from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv, passengers can only travel between Jerusalem and the airport at present.

The hilly section from Jerusalem to Latrun has five tunnels and several miles of bridges, which afford views of the Jerusalem hills.

In the coming months the line will be extended, first to Tel Aviv’s stations and eventually to Herzliya. Depending on the time of day, up to four trains will run each hour in both directions, traveling at up to 160 kilometers (100 miles) per hour.

The project was conceived in 2001, at an estimated cost of around NIS 3.5 billion ($978 million). Work began in 2005, only to be halted by environmentalist opposition until 2009. Tunneling recommenced in 2012. The final cost amounts to around NIS 6.5 billion ($1.8 billion).

The fast train to Tel Aviv has been long awaited by travelers who until now have had only a slow rail ride that meandered through the Jerusalem hills on an old Ottoman-era track and took over an hour.

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