The $US 3.2bn project involves the installation of 25kV 50Hz ac electrification on 420km, or 13 existing lines, which will be supplied by 14 substations. The conference included visits to the under construction A1 rail link from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Acre - Carmiel line, and the Sharon line from Kfar to Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Work expected to start in February 2016 and the first electric train will run on the A1 in March 2018.

The five prequalified bidders are:

• Siemens and Siemens Israel
• Elecnor, Spain
• Semi, Spain
• CPRM (a consortium of China Railways Construction Electrification Bureau Group and Pan-Mediterranean Engineering, China), and
• Alstom, Citadis Israel and Afcon Holdings.

The tender includes design and implementation of an overhead electrification system, the substations, and central and secondary control systems. The winner will also provide maintenance services for 10 years with an option for a 15-year extension.

IR is also currently evaluating offers for a tender to supply 62 electric locomotives, with an option for an additional 32 units, which was issued in July 2014. IR is expected to issue a tender for double-deck EMUs later this year. It is also considering extending its electrification rollout to other lines across Israel.