Overnight Jerusalem-Ben Gurion Airport-Tel Aviv train service to launch this month

Starting Sept. 17, trains will run once an hour in each direction Saturday through Wednesday nights, but not on Thursday — typically the main evening for nightlife in Israel

Illustrative. A train at the Yitzhak Navon train station in Jerusalem, on May 11, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90/File)
Illustrative. A train at the Yitzhak Navon train station in Jerusalem, on May 11, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90/File)

The fast train between Jerusalem, Ben Gurion Airport, and Tel Aviv will begin offering overnight service in the coming weeks, the Transportation Ministry announced Sunday.

Starting September 17, trains headed in each direction will run once an hour between Saturday and Wednesday nights.

The ministry said the service will not be offered Thursday — typically the main evening for nightlife in Israel — because of a need for maintenance at the Jerusalem end of the line, though the train will run all night between Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport, where it stops regularly.

The Jerusalem-Tel Aviv fast train made its first trip from Navon Station in the capital to Hagana station in south Tel Aviv in December 2019, with additional stops in Tel Aviv being made available in the months that followed.

The long-anticipated direct fast train began operating 18 years after the project began and 11 years after its originally scheduled completion date.

The new line significantly shortened the commute between Israel’s two largest cities, although there has been criticism of the long time needed to get from the Jerusalem station’s entrance to the platform.

A bridge on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv fast train route, July 2017 (Gidi Avinary/Flash90)

The move could be seen as part of Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli’s effort to present public transportation as a solution to the country’s congestion crisis.

The ministry under Michaeli has invested around 80 percent of its budget in public transportation and sustainable transportation projects, and 20% in private vehicle infrastructure.

A new entrance to Jerusalem — Route 16 — which was inaugurated last week, is expected to significantly ease traffic in the capital’s main entrance, providing speedy travel between Route 1 and the city’s southern neighborhoods.

The road, consisting of four tunnels and seven bridges, also includes 50,000 acres of newly landscaped territory featuring bike paths, walking paths, picnic areas and observation points overlooking the Jerusalem hills.

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, center, seen during an opening ceremony of Route 16 at the entrance to Jerusalem on August 31, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Michaeli’s initiative to promote public transportation in Israel would also potentially tackle the phenomenon of traffic accidents.

Separately on Saturday evening, a private vehicle driven by a 73-year-old woman lost control and crashed into the gate of the HaShalom train station in Tel Aviv.

No injuries were reported in the incident, but extensive damage was caused to the station, according to a report by public broadcaster Kan.

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