The approval follows the completion of all necessary procedures including: publishing the programme for public consultation, receiving appeals, amending the programme where needed, and obtaining the approval of the National Infrastructures Committee which declared the programme as a nationally important project.

"The $US 3.2bn project (including the purchase and conversion of rolling stock), will significantly increase train speeds and frequency, reduce noise and air pollution, improve passenger services and increase reliability and punctuality," Katz and the CEO of Israel Railways Mr Boaz Zafrir, said in a joint statement. "It will change the face of transport, help to reduce social and economic gaps and will diversify employment possibilities."