The ceremony was attended by Israel’s prime minister Mr Benjamin Netanyahu, transport minister Mr Israel Katz, the acting general manager of Israel Railways Mr Benny Lavie, as well as mayors of the towns served by the Valley Line.

Katz says trial operation demonstrated the value of the new line as it has already carried more than 100,000 passengers. However, passengers can travel free-of-charge until February 6 2017, after which tickets will be sold at half price for the following two years.

Freight services started on the Valley Line on November 6 between the ports of Ashdod and Haifa and Beit-She'an where a temporary freight terminal has been built until a permanent terminal is ready.

Katz has instructed his staff to promote the construction of a rail link to Jordan, and he says that a revival of the line between Afula and Jenin in the Palestinian Authority is also on the agenda.