ISRAEL’s Committee for National Infrastructure has approved a plan to construct a light rail line in the southern city of Be’er Sheva.

The planned 25km line will run from the Israel Railways station in the centre of Be’er Sheva along Highway 60 to the new Kiryat Hamodi'in military intelligence base under construction in Likit, east of Be’er Sheva. The line will continue to Meitar and terminate near the Meitar Crossing in Yehuda, south of Hebron. The tracks will also serve the Soroka Medical Centre and Ben-Gurion University.

As well as local residents, the new line will provide vital transport solution for the military personnel who will need to travel to and from the new intelligence base, which is on course to open in 2028. The light rail project is expected to be completed 2033 and cost an estimated Shekels 8bn ($US 2.11bn).

The location for the line’s depot will be selected following the conclusion of an environmental impact assessment. Israel’s National Transport Infrastructure Company is overseeing planning of the project.

Be’er Sheva mayor, Mr Ruvik Danilovich, welcomed the green light for the project, calling it “very important news for the future of transport in Be’er Sheva and the Negev.”

“The railway will be an engine of economic growth for Be’er Sheva and the entire region that will serve the civilian settlements and the Israel Defence Forces bases,” Danilovich says.

Plans to construct a light rail line in Be’er Sheva have been discussed for almost three decades, with all previous attempts failing to move the project forward. Planning work on the latest version of the project commenced in 2018 with a Shekels 30m budget confirmed by the government for this work in 2020.

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