The 57km line, which began construction in 2005, was originally set to open in 2008 but environmental protests led to significant delays to construction, while plans announced in November 2016 to extend the line via a 2km tunnel added further costs to the Shekels 7bn ($US 1.9bn) project.

The line was given a new opening date of April, but Israel’s transport minister Mr Israel Katz announced on May 18 that the 57km line was due to open on September 23.

Services will operate every 30 minutes for the 21 minute trip between Navon station and Ben-Gurion airport, with travel free for the first 90 days after travellers purchase a one-off online voucher in advance.

Israel Railways (IR) says it will later extend services over the remainder of the route, initially to Hagana station in Tel Aviv, then to Savidor Center and eventually to Herzliya, although it did not give a time frame for completion. The first electrically-hauled test train travelled on the final section of the new line on July 24.