Key parts of planned metro line in central Israel may be delayed to 2040

Promised subway tracks between Tel Aviv and other central cities could be pushed back at least 8 years

Illustrative: Underground construction on the Red Line as part of the Tel Aviv Light Rail system, on September 13, 2021. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative: Underground construction on the Red Line as part of the Tel Aviv Light Rail system, on September 13, 2021. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Plans for a metro system to provide underground connections between Tel Aviv and other key commuting areas in central Israel are set to be severely delayed, according to reports in Hebrew-language media.

The Ministry of Transportation has asked permission from the National Infrastructure Committee to prioritize certain sections of the plans, delaying until 2040 the connections to Modi’in, Ra’anana, Kfar Saba, and Hod Hasharon, eight years later than originally forecast, according to The Marker.

Instead of delivering the whole ambitious project with 109 stations and 150 kilometers (93 miles) of new track, by 2032, there will only be lines through Tel Aviv, stretching from Holon in the south up to Glilot Darom in Ramat Hasharon in the north. The M1 line has always been the most complex of the three lines planned, running for 85 kilometers (53 miles) with 62 stations, and forecast once operational to carry 1 million passengers each day.

These new subway lines were intended to extend public transport in Tel Aviv, alongside the light rail currently under construction and the regular train and bus networks in the city. But more significantly, the network was intended to connect the city to many residential areas from which people commute, where existing bus and train connections are insufficient, leading to road congestion.

Having first approved plans in 2015, the government’s National Infrastructure Committee gave its seal of approval to the proposed network in 2019. But there has been consistent questioning of the ability to deliver on the complex network, and an independent assessment concluded that there was room for improvement.

While the municipalities involved recognize the value of the potential subway network for their residents, there have been objections from Ra’anana about the proposed route, which it says cuts across neighborhoods in the city. Globes reported that Hod Hasharon and Kfar Saba have also voiced objections about similar issues, leading the Ministry of Transportation to propose splitting up the project to move some parts forward while taking time to deal with the objections arising.

Southern parts of metro line M1, which branches from Rishon LeZion to Beer Yaakov, Ramla and Lod, and through Ness Ziona to Rehovot are less problematic and ready for government approval.

There is no update on the two lines which make up the rest of the network and deliver connections to Kiryat Ono, Givat Shmuel, Petach Tikva, Or Yehuda, Bat Yam, and Ben Gurion Airport.

Delays on delivery of Tel Aviv’s new light rail system have already been announced, and are estimated to be costing the country’s economy NIS 1.5 billion ($450 million) each year.

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