Jerusalem Light Rail

Jerusalem Light Rail

Overview
The Jerusalem Light Rail is a light rail
Light rail
Light rail or light rail transit is a form of urban rail public transportation that generally has a lower capacity and lower speed than heavy rail and metro systems, but higher capacity and higher speed than traditional street-running tram systems...

 line, the first of several rapid transit
Rapid transit
A rapid transit, underground, subway, elevated railway, metro or metropolitan railway system is an electric passenger railway in an urban area with a high capacity and frequency, and grade separation from other traffic. Rapid transit systems are typically located either in underground tunnels or on...

 lines planned by Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 for Jerusalem, Israel's capital city. Construction began in 2002 and ended in 2010, when the testing phase began. It was built by the CityPass consortium, which has a 30-year concession to operate it. Construction also involved building the Jerusalem Chords Bridge, a major city landmark, and renovating a number of central locations in the city.
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Encyclopedia
The Jerusalem Light Rail is a light rail
Light rail
Light rail or light rail transit is a form of urban rail public transportation that generally has a lower capacity and lower speed than heavy rail and metro systems, but higher capacity and higher speed than traditional street-running tram systems...

 line, the first of several rapid transit
Rapid transit
A rapid transit, underground, subway, elevated railway, metro or metropolitan railway system is an electric passenger railway in an urban area with a high capacity and frequency, and grade separation from other traffic. Rapid transit systems are typically located either in underground tunnels or on...

 lines planned by Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 for Jerusalem, Israel's capital city. Construction began in 2002 and ended in 2010, when the testing phase began. It was built by the CityPass consortium, which has a 30-year concession to operate it. Construction also involved building the Jerusalem Chords Bridge, a major city landmark, and renovating a number of central locations in the city. After repeated delays, the light rail began free and limited passenger service on August 19, 2011. Full operations began December 1, 2011. The line is 13.9 kilometres (8.6 mi) long with 23 stops. Extensions are planned to the north to Neve Yaacov and to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem to the west.

During construction, the project was delayed by problems ranging from archaeological findings to its flawed traffic light system. The financial management of the project was criticized when direct costs rose more than twofold and controversy arose over the line's route as well as air
Air pollution
Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or cause damage to the natural environment or built environment, into the atmosphere....

 and noise pollution
Noise pollution
Noise pollution is excessive, displeasing human, animal or machine-created environmental noise that disrupts the activity or balance of human or animal life...

 generated by its construction.

History


In ancient times, Jerusalem was a point on the Ridge Route, also known as the Way of the Patriarchs, centrally located between the Via Maris
Via Maris
Via Maris is the modern name for an ancient trade route, dating from the early Bronze Age, linking Egypt with the northern empires of Syria, Anatolia and Mesopotamia — modern day Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria....

 (along the coast to the west) and the King's Highway
King's Highway (ancient)
The King’s Highway was a trade route of vital importance to the ancient Middle East. It began in Egypt, and stretched across the Sinai Peninsula to Aqaba. From there it turned northward across Jordan, leading to Damascus and the Euphrates River....

 (east of the River Jordan). The primary roads led to the gates of the Old City, such as the Jaffa Gate and the Damascus Gate
Damascus Gate
Damascus Gate is the main entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. It is located in the wall on the city's northwest side where the highway leads out to Nablus, and from there, in times past, to the capital of Syria, Damascus; as such, its modern English name is Damascus Gate, and its modern Hebrew...

. It was along these roads that the city grew when it expanded beyond the walls of the Old City in the 19th century, the major thoroughfares of the city thus becoming the Jaffa Road
Jaffa Road
Jaffa Road is one of the longest and oldest streets in Jerusalem. It crosses the city from east to west, from the Old City walls to downtown Jerusalem, the western portal of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. It is lined with shops, businesses and restaurants...

, leading to the west in the direction of the coastal plain, the watershed routes (Ridge Route) leading north to Ramallah
Ramallah
Ramallah is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank located 10 kilometers north of Jerusalem, adjacent to al-Bireh. It currently serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority...

, Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

, and Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, and south to Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

 and Hebron
Hebron
Hebron , is located in the southern West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judean Mountains, it lies 930 meters above sea level. It is the largest city in the West Bank and home to around 165,000 Palestinians, and over 500 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter...

, and one to the east to Jericho
Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

.

Early plans for an electric tramway were drawn up by a Greek Lebanese engineer, George Franjieh, in 1892, who had been involved in planning the Jaffa–Jerusalem railway
Jaffa–Jerusalem railway
The Jaffa–Jerusalem railway is a railroad that connected Jaffa and Jerusalem. The line was built in Ottoman Palestine by the French company Société du Chemin de Fer Ottoman de Jaffa à Jérusalem et Prolongements and inaugurated in 1892, after previous attempts by the Jewish philanthropist Moses...

. The tram would connect the city with Ein Kerem
Ein Kerem
Ein Kerem , lit. “Spring of the Vineyard”, and - ‘Ein Kārem), is an ancient village of the Jerusalem District and now a neighbourhood in southwest of Jerusalem. According to Christian tradition, John the Baptist was born in Ein Kerem, leading to the establishment of many churches and monasteries....

 and Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

. In 1910, a tender for a tramway was published by the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 authorities.

In 1918, the British army built an electric rail system linking the German Colony with El-Bireh, on the outskirts of Ramallah, traversing Jerusalem along a winding route. It was built by Rail Builders Company 272 of the British Engineering Corps, commanded by Col. Jordan Bell, with some 850 Egyptian and local Arab laborers, about half of them women. The railway was used by the British army, and for a few months it supplied Allenby's
Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby
Field Marshal Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby GCB, GCMG, GCVO was a British soldier and administrator most famous for his role during the First World War, in which he led the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in the conquest of Palestine and Syria in 1917 and 1918.Allenby, nicknamed...

 troops. It was dismantled shortly after the front moved northward in late 1918. Some of the city's streets may have been paved along its route.

In the 1970s, when traffic congestion mounted in the city center, proposals were discussed for widening the main roads. In the 1990s, the government approved new plans for an integrated network relying on rapid transit, including a light rail system and bus rapid transit
Bus rapid transit
Bus rapid transit is a term applied to a variety of public transportation systems using buses to provide faster, more efficient service than an ordinary bus line. Often this is achieved by making improvements to existing infrastructure, vehicles and scheduling...

.

Construction



In the 1990s, a light rail system was proposed as a means of providing faster and less polluting public transit through the heart of the city, as well as reversing the decline of certain central areas. CityPass, a specially formed consortium, won a 30-year concession to build and operate Line 1 (the "Red Line"). CityPass consists of financiers Harel
Harel Group
Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services Ltd. is the third largest insurance group in Israel, a public company whose shares are traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and was once included in the TA-25 Index. It is controlled by the Hamburger Family, which has approx...

 (20%), Polar Investments (17.5%) and the Israel Infrastructure Fund (10%), constructors Ashtrom (27.5%) and engineers Alstom
Alstom
Alstom is a large multinational conglomerate which holds interests in the power generation and transport markets. According to the company website, in the years 2010-2011 Alstom had annual sales of over €20.9 billion, and employed more than 85,000 people in 70 countries. Alstom's headquarters are...

 (20%), plus service operators – Connex (now Veolia Transport
Veolia Transport
Veolia Transport is the international transport services division of the French-based multinational company Veolia Environnement...

) (5%). Veolia abandoned the project in 2009, selling its 5% stake to Dan Public Transportation Co
Dan Bus Company
Dan Bus Company is an Israeli bus company based in Tel Aviv. It operates local bus service in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area as well as some intercity bus services between the Gush Dan area and nearby regions such as Samaria, and a connection between Bne Brak and Jerusalem. Dan operates 1,200...

.

However, the principal agreement with Dan did not materialize. Veolia entered another principal agreement with Egged. Veolia sold its stake in CityPass and its shares in the contract for the maintenance of the light rail to Egged. The contract stipulates that Veolia would provide consultancy services to Egged, until the company acquired the necessary expertise. Dan has taken Veolia to court for exiting the principal agreement.

Construction of Line 1 began in 2002. Dubbed the "Red Line", it initially has 23 stations on a new 1,435 mm gauge
Standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

 twin-track 13.8 km alignment. It runs from Pisgat Ze'ev
Pisgat Ze'ev
Pisgat Ze'ev , is an Israeli settlement and a residential neighborhood with a population of 50,000 located in northern East Jerusalem. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, although the Israeli government disputes this...

 in the northeast, south along Road 1 (intercity) to Jaffa Road
Jaffa Road
Jaffa Road is one of the longest and oldest streets in Jerusalem. It crosses the city from east to west, from the Old City walls to downtown Jerusalem, the western portal of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. It is lined with shops, businesses and restaurants...

 (Rehov Yaffo). From there, it runs along Jaffa Road westward to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station
Jerusalem Central Bus Station
The Jerusalem Central Bus Station is the main bus depot in Jerusalem, Israel and one of the busiest bus stations in the country. Located on Jaffa Road near the entrance to the city, it serves Egged, Superbus and Dan intercity bus routes...

, and continues to the southwest, crossing the Chords Bridge
Chords Bridge
The Jerusalem Chords Bridge or Jerusalem Bridge of Strings , also called the Jerusalem Light Rail Bridge is a cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge at the entrance to the city of Jerusalem, Israel designed by the Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava. The bridge is used by Jerusalem Light...

 along Herzl
Herzl
Herzl is originally a Yiddish given name.* Herzl Berger* Herzl Bodinger* Theodor Herzl Gaster* Cyrus Herzl Gordon* Yehudah Herzl Henkin* Herzl Rosenblum* Herzl Yankl Tsam- Family name :* Theodor Herzl, most famous "Herzl"** Herzl Award...

 Boulevard to the Beit HaKerem neighborhood, finishing just beyond Mount Herzl
Mount Herzl
Mount Herzl , also Har HaZikaron , is the national cemetery of Israel on the west side of Jerusalem. It is named for Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism. Herzl's tomb lies at the top of the hill. Yad Vashem, which commemorates the Holocaust, lies to the west of Mt. Herzl....

 below Bayit VeGan
Bayit Vegan
Bayit VeGan is a neighborhood in southwest Jerusalem, Israel, with a mostly charedi religious population. Bayit VeGan is located to the east of Mount Herzl and borders the neighborhoods of Kiryat Hayovel and Givat Mordechai. The Shaare Zedek Medical Center is located near Bayit VeGan...

. The first test run for this route was on February 24, 2010. The laying of the railroad tracks was completed on June 15, 2010.

Delays


The date for the inauguration of the light rail service was postponed four times. The initial date was January 2009, deferred to August 2010 due to funding problems and lack of staff. When it was announced that the traffic light network for the trains was not compatible with Israeli stop light systems, CityPass was given until April 2011, but after the problem persisted and other safety issues were not resolved, an August 2011 date was settled on, and service was to begin without giving priority to trains at traffic lights. As a result, travel time for the full route is 80 minutes instead of the planned 42 until final synchronization of the lights is completed. When the light rail started operating on Friday, 19 August 2011, there where also air conditioning issues and electrical and communications problems, one of them making trains suddenly “disappear” and then “reappear” on the screens of the control center near French Hill
French Hill
French Hill , also Giv'at Shapira is a neighborhood in northeastern Jerusalem. It is located on territory occupied during the Six-Day War in 1967, later annexed to Israel under the Jerusalem Law in 1980...

. In addition to it, the computerized ticketing system collapsed a few days before the inauguration. After arbitration between CityPass and governmental officials, it was decided that the trains would begin limited operation as scheduled. Only 14 of the 21 trains were put into operation, departing every 21 minutes, and travel was free of charge. It is expected that the route will be fully operational within three months after the inauguration.
As of 2011-12-01 the service will no longer be free of charge.

Development along the route



As part of the light rail project, CityPass is expected to install blind-friendly traffic lights along the route, and is developing a number of sites along the route, including Davidka Square
Davidka Square
Davidka Square is a public square at the intersection of Jaffa Road, Street of the Prophets, and Kiach Road in Jerusalem, Israel. Its official name is Kikar Haherut...

. In late 2009, trees were planted along the line. The species selected were deemed suitable to the Jerusalem climate, hardy enough to withstand the capital's cold winters while providing shade in summer. Over 3,500 trees were planted along the route in 2009–11. The genera include platanus
Platanus
Platanus is a small genus of trees native to the Northern Hemisphere. They are the sole living members of the family Platanaceae....

, ash and types of oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

. In March 2011, however, the Ministry of Transportation objected to having trees adjacent to the route, due to visibility problems.

Chords Bridge



The Chords Bridge
Chords Bridge
The Jerusalem Chords Bridge or Jerusalem Bridge of Strings , also called the Jerusalem Light Rail Bridge is a cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge at the entrance to the city of Jerusalem, Israel designed by the Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava. The bridge is used by Jerusalem Light...

 is a cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge
Cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge
A cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge is a modern variation of the cable-stayed bridge. This design has been pioneered by the architect Santiago Calatrava. An example of this type is the Puente del Alamillo...

 designed by the Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava
Santiago Calatrava
Santiago Calatrava Valls is a Spanish architect, sculptor and structural engineer whose principal office is in Zürich, Switzerland. Classed now among the elite designers of the world, he has offices in Zürich, Paris, Valencia, and New York City....

, built for the light rail, close to the most frequently used entrance to Jerusalem, in the neighborhood of Kiryat Moshe
Kiryat Moshe
Kiryat Moshe is a neighborhood in western Jerusalem, Israel named for the British Jewish philanthropist Moses Montefiore. Kiryat Moshe is bordered by Givat Shaul.-History:...

. The bridge carries the trams in a grade separated manner over the busy road intersection
Intersection (road)
An intersection is a road junction where two or more roads either meet or cross at grade . An intersection may be 3-way - a T junction or fork, 4-way - a crossroads, or 5-way or more...

. Incorporated in the bridge is a glass-sided pedestrian crossing, enabling pedestrians to cross unimpeded from the Kiryat Moshe area to the Central Bus Station
Jerusalem Central Bus Station
The Jerusalem Central Bus Station is the main bus depot in Jerusalem, Israel and one of the busiest bus stations in the country. Located on Jaffa Road near the entrance to the city, it serves Egged, Superbus and Dan intercity bus routes...

 grounds.

Bus and train connection


The Jerusalem Central Bus Station
Jerusalem Central Bus Station
The Jerusalem Central Bus Station is the main bus depot in Jerusalem, Israel and one of the busiest bus stations in the country. Located on Jaffa Road near the entrance to the city, it serves Egged, Superbus and Dan intercity bus routes...

 is slated to became a major passenger transportation hub
Transportation hub
A transport hub is a place where passengers and cargo are exchanged between vehicles or between transport modes. Public transport hubs include train stations, rapid transit stations, bus stops, tram stop, airports and ferry slips. Freight hubs include classification yards, seaports and truck...

. The Jerusalem Binyanei HaUma Railway Station
Jerusalem Binyanei HaUma Railway Station
Jerusalem Binyanei HaUma Railway Station is a future railway station on the future high-speed railway to Jerusalem near Binyanei HaUma in Jerusalem, Israel. The station is currently under construction and will be mostly underground, 60–80 m deep...

 is being built for the new high-speed railway to Jerusalem
High-speed railway to Jerusalem
The high-speed railway to Jerusalem is a railway line from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel, under construction since 2001. It is set to be completed in 2017...

 from Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

 and Ben Gurion Airport
Ben Gurion Airport Railway Station
Ben Gurion Airport Railway Station is a station on the Israel Railways lines between Tel Aviv and Modi'in. The station is located in the lower level of Ben Gurion International Airport's Terminal 3, and was opened in 2004.-Services:...

. Passengers will also be able to board the existing intercity bus services at the station.

A park and ride
Park and ride
Park and ride facilities are car parks with connections to public transport that allow commuters and other people wishing to travel into city centres to leave their vehicles and transfer to a bus, rail system , or carpool for the rest of their trip...

 facility was built near Mount Herzl
Mount Herzl
Mount Herzl , also Har HaZikaron , is the national cemetery of Israel on the west side of Jerusalem. It is named for Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism. Herzl's tomb lies at the top of the hill. Yad Vashem, which commemorates the Holocaust, lies to the west of Mt. Herzl....

, consisting of a multi-storey car park
Multi-storey car park
A multi-storey car-park is a building designed specifically to be for car parking and where there are a number of floors or levels on which parking takes place...

 with the first line terminal on its roof, which is actually at the street level of Herzl Boulevard. An additional parking lot was erected adjacent to the Ammunition Hill stop.

Extension plans


The Jerusalem Municipality has plans to build eight bus rapid transit
Bus rapid transit
Bus rapid transit is a term applied to a variety of public transportation systems using buses to provide faster, more efficient service than an ordinary bus line. Often this is achieved by making improvements to existing infrastructure, vehicles and scheduling...

 (BRT) and light rail
Light rail
Light rail or light rail transit is a form of urban rail public transportation that generally has a lower capacity and lower speed than heavy rail and metro systems, but higher capacity and higher speed than traditional street-running tram systems...

 lines across the city. Initial extensions to the first line were planned to the neighborhoods of Neve Ya'akov in the northeast, and Ein Kerem
Ein Kerem
Ein Kerem , lit. “Spring of the Vineyard”, and - ‘Ein Kārem), is an ancient village of the Jerusalem District and now a neighbourhood in southwest of Jerusalem. According to Christian tradition, John the Baptist was born in Ein Kerem, leading to the establishment of many churches and monasteries....

 (near Hadassah Hospital
Hadassah Medical Center
Hadassah Medical Center is a medical organization that operates two University hospitals at Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, Israel, as well as schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, and pharmacology affiliated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.The hospital was founded by Hadassah,...

) in the southwest. Former mayor Uri Lupoliansky stated that they would be completed at the same time as the rest of the line. In 2008, French company Egis Rail won a 11.9 million Euro contract to carry out the work. However, in March 2009, CityPass turned down the project. In May 2010 the Jerusalem Municipality announced that the extension would be built by the state authorities rather than a private company. The extensions will include a line from the Neve Ya'akov neighborhood, a southern extension to Kiryat Menachem
Kiryat Menachem
Kiryat Menachem is a neighborhood in southwest Jerusalem, Israel, bordering Kiryat Hayovel. Kiryat Menachem was founded in 1956 to provide housing for the masses of new immigrants who arrived after the establishment of the State of Israel. The neighborhood is named for American Zionist leader Max...

 and an inter-campus line connecting the Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus , جبل المشهد , جبل الصوانة) is a mountain in northeast Jerusalem. In the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Mount Scopus became a UN protected Jewish exclave within Jordanian-occupied territory until the Six-Day War in 1967...

 and Givat Ram
Givat Ram
Givat Ram is a neighborhood in central Jerusalem, Israel. Many of Israel's most important national institutions are located in Givat Ram, among them the Knesset, the Israel Museum, the National Library of Israel and the Israeli Supreme Court.-Etymology:...

 campuses of the Hebrew University.

North–south BRT line


The first bus rapid transit
Bus rapid transit
Bus rapid transit is a term applied to a variety of public transportation systems using buses to provide faster, more efficient service than an ordinary bus line. Often this is achieved by making improvements to existing infrastructure, vehicles and scheduling...

 (BRT) line, a feeder line to the Light Rail, is a dedicated bus line running along Hebron Road in south Jerusalem, northwards to Keren HaYesod Street, and from there to King George V Street
King George Street (Jerusalem)
King George Street is a street in central Jerusalem, Israel. It was named for King George V on December 9, 1924.-History:King George Street was dedicated in honor of the seventh anniversary of the British conquest of Jerusalem under General Allenby...

, where it crosses the path of the light rail and continues along Strauss Street towards Kikar HaShabbat
Kikar HaShabbat
Kikar HaShabbat , sometimes known in the Haredi community as Kikar Shabbos, is a major intersection joining five streets in Jerusalem, Israel, between the Haredi neighborhoods of Meah Shearim and Geula. Yehezkel st. from the north, Malchei Israel st. from the west, Mea She'arim st. from the east,...

 to Yehezkel Street and Shmuel HaNavi Street, towards Golda Meir Boulevard in the direction of Ramot
Ramot
Ramot , also known as Ramot Alon , is a large housing development in northwestern Jerusalem. Because part of Ramot lies north of the Green Line in East Jerusalem, the international community considers Ramot an Israeli settlement that is illegal under international law. Israel disputes this and...

. Buses on this route are operated by the Egged Transportation Cooperative. Tour buses, Arab buses and mini-buses that run from the Damascus Gate also use the line.

The bus stops on this route have been designed to match the tram stops on the Red Line.

Rolling stock


Initial rolling stock are 46 Citadis 302 100% low-floor five-module units manufactured at Alstom's Aytré
Aytré
Aytré is a commune in the Charente-Maritime department in the Poitou-Charentes region in southwestern France.Aytré is especially known for its long beach, which is easily accessible from neighbouring La Rochelle, or Les Minimes...

 factory. All axles are driven to handle up to 9% inclines. The first car was delivered via the Port of Ashdod
Port of Ashdod
The Port of Ashdod is one of Israel's two main cargo ports. The port is located in Ashdod, about 40 kilometers south of Tel Aviv, adjoining the mouth of the Lachish River. Its establishment doubled the country's port capacity. It is a major point of entry for both cargo and tourists in and out of...

 in September 2007.

The maintenance and storage depot for the whole fleet is located on a 10 acres (40,468.6 m²) site near French Hill
French Hill
French Hill , also Giv'at Shapira is a neighborhood in northeastern Jerusalem. It is located on territory occupied during the Six-Day War in 1967, later annexed to Israel under the Jerusalem Law in 1980...

 in north Jerusalem. The route and vehicles are monitored from the control center, and trams are driven under line-of-sight principles with built-in priority at many road intersections. The fare collection and ticketing system is supplied by Affiliated Computer Services
Affiliated Computer Services
Affiliated Computer Services Inc. provides information technology services as well as business process outsourcing solutions to businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. ACS is based in Dallas, Texas and the current CEO is Lynn Blodgett. ACS is ranked at number 341 on the 2010...

.

Operation


The French-based company Veolia Transport
Veolia Transport
Veolia Transport is the international transport services division of the French-based multinational company Veolia Environnement...

, which held 5% of CityPass's shares, was originally meant to operate the light rail. However, due to pressure from groups united in the Derail Veolia Campaign, Veolia sold part of its share in the project in September 2009 to the Dan Bus Company
Dan Bus Company
Dan Bus Company is an Israeli bus company based in Tel Aviv. It operates local bus service in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area as well as some intercity bus services between the Gush Dan area and nearby regions such as Samaria, and a connection between Bne Brak and Jerusalem. Dan operates 1,200...

 for $15–20 million. However, Dan Bus will need Veolia's expertise for at least five years to run the light rail successfully.

Travel over the entire 13.8 kilometer line is due to take 42 minutes from Pisgat Ze'ev at one end to Mount Herzl at the other. The line operates Sunday through Thursday, from 5:30 am to 11:30 pm, on Friday up to an hour before sundown and not during the Shabbat
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

 or Jewish holiday
Jewish holiday
Jewish holidays are days observed by Jews as holy or secular commemorations of important events in Jewish history. In Hebrew, Jewish holidays and festivals, depending on their nature, may be called yom tov or chag or ta'anit...

s, but resumes half an hour after Shabbat or the Holiday ends. Frequency will be every 4.5 minutes during rush hours, every 8 minutes in the daytime and every 12 minutes at night. It is expected to carry up to 23,000 passengers an hour during peak morning rush hour
Rush hour
A rush hour or peak hour is a part of the day during which traffic congestion on roads and crowding on public transport is at its highest. Normally, this happens twice a day—once in the morning and once in the evening, the times during when the most people commute...

s. The light rail operates at a maximum speed of 50 km/h (31.1 mph). New regulations were passed by the government in regard to vehicle behavior vis-a-vis the light rail.

Controversy


The project has aroused controversy because the route passes through territories that Israel captured during the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

 and annexed and incorporated into the Jerusalem Municipality such as French Hill
French Hill
French Hill , also Giv'at Shapira is a neighborhood in northeastern Jerusalem. It is located on territory occupied during the Six-Day War in 1967, later annexed to Israel under the Jerusalem Law in 1980...

 and Pisgat Ze'ev
Pisgat Ze'ev
Pisgat Ze'ev , is an Israeli settlement and a residential neighborhood with a population of 50,000 located in northern East Jerusalem. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, although the Israeli government disputes this...

, considered illegal Israeli settlement
Israeli settlement
An Israeli settlement is a Jewish civilian community built on land that was captured by Israel from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and is considered occupied territory by the international community. Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank...

s in East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

 by some parties. The International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

 and the international community say these settlements are illegal, and no foreign government supports Israel's settlements. Israel disputes the position of the international community. In consequence, Dutch bank ASN
ASN Bank
ASN Bank is a Dutch bank, part of SNS Reaal. ASN focusses on social responsible and sustainable investments.ASN Bank was founded on May 1, 1960 by the union of Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging and the insurance company de Centrale...

 divested from Veolia Environnement and Swedish pension fund AP7 blacklisted Alstom
Alstom
Alstom is a large multinational conglomerate which holds interests in the power generation and transport markets. According to the company website, in the years 2010-2011 Alstom had annual sales of over €20.9 billion, and employed more than 85,000 people in 70 countries. Alstom's headquarters are...

.

Both Veolia and Alstom were sued by the Palestine Liberation Organisation and French advocacy group Association France-Palestine Solidarité in the French courts. In May 2009 it was reported that the Palestinian Authority had been urging Saudi Arabia through back channels to pressure Alstom and Veolia to abandon the project in return for the multi-billion dollar Haramain Express
Haramain High Speed Rail Project
The Haramain High Speed Rail project also known as the "Western Railway", is a high speed inter-city Rail transport system under construction in Saudi Arabia. It will link the Muslim holy cities of Medina and Mecca via King Abdullah Economic City, Rabigh, Jeddah and King Abdulaziz International...

 project and the $25 billion Gulf railway project. In November 2009, under the banner of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions refers to a campaign first initiated on 9 July 2005 by 171 Palestinian non-governmental organizations in support of the Palestinian cause ".....

 (BDS), Palestinian organizations launched a campaign on the six Gulf Cooperation Council states to withhold lucrative contracts for the Gulf railway project from the two companies unless they comply with demands to withdraw from the Jerusalem project.

Budgetary problems and environmental concerns


The financial management of the project was criticized in May 2008 by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss
Micha Lindenstrauss
Micha Lindenstrauss is an Israeli judge and the current State Comptroller.Lindenstrauss was born in Nazi Germany and immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine when he was two years old, on the eve of World War II...

, who reported a 128% deviation in funds, from an estimated NIS 500 million to NIS 1.14 billion. It was also noted that the government had spent NIS 1.2 billion on the project up to 2007, which pointed to a further deviation. The total cost of the initial line (not including the planned extensions) is estimated at 3.8 billion NIS (appx. US $1.1 billion).

The project was also criticized for increasing air pollution in Jerusalem. However, it was credited with reducing air pollution on Jaffa Road
Jaffa Road
Jaffa Road is one of the longest and oldest streets in Jerusalem. It crosses the city from east to west, from the Old City walls to downtown Jerusalem, the western portal of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. It is lined with shops, businesses and restaurants...

 by 80% when the latter was converted to an LRT-only way. Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem, was critical of the traffic jams caused by construction. In March 2009, he proposed canceling the project after the first two lines were completed and replacing the rest of the planned rail network with buses. In October 2010, residents of Jerusalem filed a NIS 1.2 billion class-action lawsuit against CityPass but the Jerusalem district court ruled that the company could only be sued for air and noise pollution.

Archaeological findings


While tracks for the light rail were being laid in Shuafat
Shuafat
Shu'fat , also Shuafat and Sha'fat, is a Palestinian Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem, forming part of north-eastern Jerusalem. Located on the old Jerusalem-Ramallah road about three miles north of the Old City, Shuafat has a population of 35,000 residents...

, the remains of an ancient Roman–Jewish settlement were discovered. The settlement was described as a "sophisticated community impeccably planned by the Roman authorities, with orderly rows of houses and two fine public bathhouses to the north."The findings are said be the first indication of active Jewish settlement in the Jerusalem area after the city fell in 70 CE.

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