ISRAEL’s Ministry of Transport has approved the start of planning for a metro network to serve Jerusalem. With the city’s population expected to rise from 1.9 million to 2.2 million by 2050, and the Greater Jerusalem travel area expected to grow to around 4 million passengers per working day, the government has accepted that a mass transit system is needed.

The city is currently served by a single light rail line, plus the underground section of the A1 Link main line from Modiin and Gush Dan. An extension of the railway to serve central Jerusalem and plans to build eight more light rail lines are no longer considered sufficient to meet future demand.

The ministry and the municipality of Jerusalem are therefore preparing a tender to produce a professionally-drafted master plan.

Initial planning on a Jerusalem metro started five years ago at the Hebrew University. Designs were based on the international standard of three to four metro lines to serve a city of 2 million people.

The Jerusalem metro is likely to be built at a depth of 30-40m, with some sections at grade. The city is built on limestone rock and the challenges of tunnelling near archaeological and religious sites mean that the first line is expected to take 15 years to complete.

Separately, the municipality has announced that extensions at both ends of the 13.8km light rail L1/Red Line will open to passengers by the end of November. Construction of the extensions serving Neve Yakov, to the north, and Hadassa Hospital, in the southwest, has been considerably delayed.

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