The Jerusalem-Tel Aviv high speed rail slated to be inaugurated in September after successive delays will only open partially, Transportation Minister Israel Katz has admitted.
Katz told Hadashot news on Wednesday that the train will temporarily travel only as far as Ben Gurion Airport upon its opening at the start of the Sukkot holiday.
A source involved in the project told the Globes business daily that it will likely take an additional three or four months before the train reaches stations in Tel Aviv.
This is because construction for the tracks in Tel Aviv is being done along a railway route that is already in use, which requires intermittent shutdowns of lines in the city for work to be completed. The section between Jerusalem and Ben Gurion did not face the same obstacles and was therefore less disruptive.
While the work has been intensified in order to meet the most recent pledge made by the transportation minister that the train would be running in September, Israel Railways administrators were forced to notify Katz last week that a partial opening would be the only way to fulfill his pledge to the public.
In February, Israel Railways informed the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange that the long-awaited fast train would be delayed for some six months because it still lacked certain necessary safety permits.
At the time, Katz had still been promising that the train, expected to enable passengers to travel between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in less than 30 minutes, would open for the Passover holiday in March.
An October 2017 report by the state comptroller was highly skeptical that the train would be operational by that date, warning that cutting corners to finish the project by April could reduce the quality of the work, compromise safety, and lead to an overall increase in the costs of the project.