IR's 2018 figure includes a Shekels 209m value write-off, reported in the third quarter, Shekels 49m in amortisation expenses as well as a Shekels 12.7m penalty for failing to meet punctuality targets. This was mainly the result of overcrowding at stations due to rolling stock shortages.

A significant portion of the result was from the company’s freight division, which reported a loss of Shekels 74m. Revenues were also down 7% from Shekels 190m in 2017 to Shekels 177m last year. This followed a year of strikes by the employees’ union after a dispute over driver’s work schedules. The government’s 6.5% subsidy for freight is also in decline while the sector is suffering from rolling stock and motive power shortages as well as scarcity of available train paths.

IR says as a result of the loss it is targeting major savings in general expenses such as conferences, refreshments and human resources.

Passenger revenues increased slightly to Shekels 753m from Shekels 748m in 2018 while the number of passengers carried increased 4.8% from 64.6 million in 2017 to 67.7 million passengers last year.

Among the major highlights of the year was the opening of the 57km A1 Link between Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv and Navon station in Jerusalem. More than 1 million passengers have used the line since it opened on September 25 2018 and the 6500 trains which operated up to March 20. Daily passenger numbers have risen steadily on services between the two cities.

The plan is to increase the number of daily trains from 54 to 62 once electrification is completed between the airport and Tel Aviv Hahagana station. However, it remains a substantial ridership rise is uncertain due to a fare increase.