Israel Railways

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Israel Railways corporation Ltd.

legal form Limited
founding 2003
Seat Tel Aviv , IsraelIsraelIsrael 
management Shahar Ayalon, CEO
Number of employees 1900
sales 940 million ILS (2015)
Branch traffic

Historical logo of the Israeli Railways
Route network

Israel Railways ( Hebrew רַכֶּבֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל Rakevet Israel RI ) is the state-owned Israeli railway company with headquarters in Tel Aviv-Jaffa (until 1980 in Haifa ).

The company was formed in 1948 from the parts of the standard-gauge Palestine Railways (PR) in Israel, the standard - gauge Haifa – Beirut – Tripoli (HBT) railway line built by the British military with US help during the Second World War and the remnants that remained in Israel the narrow-gauge Hejaz Railway, which was laid out in Ottoman times .

Due to this rather coincidental agglomeration of lines, which only partially corresponded to the settlement structure of the new state of Israel, the railroad hardly played a role in Israel for a long time. The train stations were - and still are today - far outside of the newly emerging cities they are supposed to serve. Up until the 1990s, investments in the transport sector largely benefited the roads, because roads are considered to be more reliable and easier to use in the event of war, which has always threatened the country. Only since the end of the 1990s have rail projects to relieve roads and the environment been massively promoted, cf. the Jerusalem light rail and plans for a light rail in Tel Aviv.


First routes

Jaffa Railway Station, 1891

The first railway line in Palestine was built from Jaffa to Jerusalem in 1890 ; the first train ran in 1892. In 1904, another rail connection was opened with the line from Haifa via Afula to Bet She'an ; it was part of the Hejaz Railway and eventually led to Damascus (the line was used until 1946; the tracks no longer exist). Before and during the First World War , further routes followed, including to Be'er Scheva and across the Sinai Peninsula to Kantara on the Suez Canal with a connection to Cairo . The existing routes in the British mandate were merged in 1920 to form the Palestine Railways , which existed until 1948.

Establishment of Rakevet Israel / Israel Railways (ISR)

The forerunner of the Israeli railway (Rakevet Israel) was a task force, commissioned by the Hagana underground army , which, under the working title "Hebrew Railway", dealt with securing the existing railway infrastructure and vehicles as much as possible in Jewish-controlled areas and operating them in a future one to ensure the Jewish state. That was not easy as there was a lack of trained staff. Only about 10% of the railroad workers on Palestine Railways were Jews. The management staff completely provided the British mandate power.

The State of Israel was proclaimed on May 15, 1948. With this, the railway administration also passed into Jewish hands. The Palestinian War broke out just hours later . The railroad played almost no role in the dispute, as the tracks crossed the front lines at various points, meaning that they could only be used in very short sections. There were hardly any trains left.

The end of the Israeli Hejaz Railway

After the War of Independence, a completely closed border separated the western section of the Haifa – Dar'a railway in Israel from the main network in Syria. In addition, some sections of the route in the Jordan Valley were now beyond the state border in Jordan . Al-Hamma train station was surrounded on three sides by borders and was repeatedly hit by fire. The branch line to Nablus was added to Jordan by the armistice, was no longer in operation and dismantled in the mid-1960s. Operation on the narrow-gauge Haifa – Akko railway was also not resumed, but was replaced by trains on the section of the regular-gauge railway Haifa – Beirut – Tripoli (HBT) located on Israeli territory . In 1950 there were still a few excursion trains running on the Haifa – Afula section and in 1951 a few freight and mixed freight / passenger trains. In 1952 it was decided to shut down all 1050 mm lines and operations were finally ceased in 1954. Soon afterwards, the facilities in the greater Haifa area were demolished. East of Haifa, the route and several train stations are still clearly visible.

Standard gauge lines

The few trains that drove during the Revolutionary War, moved on the routes Haifa- Hadera (mostly freight trains) and Haifa- Kiryat Motzkin (since 20 June 1948). These were sections that were completely under Israeli control. To the south of Hadera it was initially a matter of rail replacement traffic : the city of Tulkarm and the Jordan train station on the western edge of the city had been slammed so that the route could no longer be used. Despite ongoing fighting, regular passenger traffic on the Haifa – Tel Aviv Darom route (Tel Aviv South) was resumed on January 4, 1949, with two pairs of trains per day. The first regular passenger train of the Rakevet Jisra'el hauled the WD 70 513. On the same day the passenger traffic between Haifa and Akko on the HBT route was resumed with five pairs of trains. The operation could finally be extended to Nahariya . To avoid changing trains on the way to Tel Aviv, Tulkarm was bypassed in August 1949 with a track on Israeli territory that was so close to the border that the vernacular mockingly recommended: "Please do not lean out of the country!" At that time the board of directors of Rakevet Israel decided to add the English name Israel Railways to the Hebrew name .

Almost at the same time, on August 7, 1949, traffic to Jerusalem was resumed. Before the armistice agreement of 1949, the route was not entirely on Israeli territory. Jordan however agreed to a ceasefire line that brought the railway line to a standstill in Israel. In return, Israel allowed the Arab population to stay in the border strip and the farmers of Bittir , five kilometers west of Jerusalem, to continue to cultivate their fields on Israeli territory. The reopening of this connection was of great symbolic value for the Israeli presence in the now divided Jerusalem. The opening train, with Prime Minister Ben Gurion on board, was secured by a locomotive in front, by military vehicles moving in parallel, and an Air Force aircraft. Regular traffic was only started in March 1950.

The Sinai Railway was still operated by Egypt and in some places it was fiercely contested. During their retreat, the Egyptians dismantled the tracks on the emerging new border north of Gaza.

Tel Aviv North Station ( Bnei Berak ) opened in 1949 (the station sign says "Tel-Aviv HaZafon" - Tel Aviv North)
Motor car set from the Esslingen machine factory in 1956, comparable to the DB class VT 08

Construction time

Adaptation to the conditions of the new state

The vehicle fleet taken over by Palestine Railways was in poor condition due to a lack of maintenance during the war. In addition, a significant part of the Arab PR staff left the country during the war of independence. A qualified replacement could often not be found immediately. So the IR started its operations in rather poor and primitive conditions.

The network taken over from the British mandate in no way met the needs of the State of Israel. In particular, the detour via Lod for a journey between Haifa and Tel Aviv was intolerable. The first improvement here was a shortcut in the north of Tel Aviv: a six-kilometer extension to Tel Aviv was built from the branch line to Petach Tikwa . The junction was named Olamit Junction after a nearby factory . The route ended in the newly built Tel Aviv Tzafon (North) station north of Tel Aviv, later renamed Bnei Berak . It was the first train station that Rakewet Israel built. After just a few weeks of construction, operations began on September 20, 1949. The trains from Haifa still had to change their direction of travel in Rosh HaAyin . At the same time, planning was started for a new, direct route between Tel Aviv and Haifa along the coast.

The 47 km long, single-track new line running near the coast was realized in American-Israeli cooperation. It left the old route north of Hadera ( Remez Junction ) and also ended in Tel Aviv Tzafon / Bnei Berak. The opening took place on April 15, 1953. As early as November 4, 1954, the line was introduced to a new station, Tel Aviv Merkaz (Central Station), with three tracks and two external platforms, which was cheaper to the city center than the North Station / Bnei Berak. Nevertheless, the distance to the city center to the south was so great that it could usually not be reached on foot. The station was built in the open, right next to a garage belonging to the Dan bus company. The station was later named Arlozorow after a nearby street. Today the official name is Tel Aviv Savidor.

Hadera received the new Hadera Ma'araw (West) station. The old one was called Hadera Mizrach (East). Where the two lines from Haifa and from Bnei Berak met in front of the Tel Aviv main station, the Tel Baruch Junction triangle was created .

The main route was now 350 km. There were also 160 km of branch lines and industrial connections.

Railways in the Negev

Israel has rich natural resources. A large part of it, mainly phosphates , is exported through the ports of Eilat and Ashdod . Initially, the transport took place on the road. A route to the south was built in stages - the railway builders have not yet arrived in Eilat. This is also not to be expected for the next few years.

Be'er Scheva , university town and capital of the Negev , was reached on March 29, 1956, when a train first traveled the new line that branches off the Lod –Jerusalem railway line in Na'an. It was formed from a multiple unit from the manufacturer Maschinenfabrik Esslingen . With a length of 73 km, the new line was the largest undertaking of its kind in the history of IR. It is true that during the First World War the village of Be'er Scheva was already connected to the railway network by the Ottoman military railway. However, the new line runs on a different route.

Diesel locomotive from 1957 against the backdrop of Haifa
Type V 60 diesel shunting locomotive , which was procured through the Schilumim program in 1959

Further investments

The treaties ( Luxembourg Agreement ) on German reparations ("Schilumim") were signed in Luxembourg on September 10, 1952 and came into force on March 20, 1953. After that, the Israeli government - as a rule - was able to order German products from various groups of goods. Group 2, steel processing industry, also contained the products that were needed for the expansion of the railway. Israeli buyers had to pay the Israeli government in Israeli pounds for deliveries from Germany at a fixed exchange rate. Between 1953 and 1966, 250 million DM were available annually for this purpose  . In an expert opinion in which it was assessed how these funds should be used most effectively, it was pointed out as early as 1952 that the development of the railroad should be the primary goal alongside the expansion of the electricity supply. Investments in the railway are economically more sensible than in road expansion. At that time, an investment requirement of 44 million US dollars was estimated for the railway. In particular, the funds should be invested in a suburban traffic that is to be expanded and electrified and in diesel and steam locomotives (!) For the Negev railways. In addition, it recommended to locate industrial plants so that sidings can be laid. The circulation of freight wagons should be accelerated by providing every station with adequate handling facilities. The potash from Sdom and the phosphate from Machtesch was to be transported to Mamshit by conveyor belts and from there to the port of Ashdod on a railway to be built. The latter project was at least roughly implemented in the same way. Between 1954 and 1962, IR received railway equipment from the Shilumim Fund for more than 50 million DM ($ US 12.7): The railway to Be'er Scheva was laid exclusively with German rails, half of the tracks on the line to Jerusalem replaced by German rails, 160 km of which were delivered. Sleepers and telegraph poles were also imported from Germany. In 1958, the electrical signaling systems with block protection and central interlockings , which enabled longer trains and, for the first time, express trains between Tel Aviv and Haifa, were acquired. Despite this renovation of the railway, neither the number of passengers nor the volume of goods traffic could be increased significantly or the deficit of the railway could be significantly reduced. The latter was also due to the fact that the Histadrut union prevented the railway from being able to lay off personnel that were no longer needed through rationalization.

For 1960, 634 km of IR routes and 202 km of industrial railways are recorded.

Expansion in the Negev

In November 1961, a seven-kilometer branch of the line Lod– Ashkelon (Gaza) to the port of Ashdod, which was under construction, was opened in 1966. The junction was named Pleshet Junction , and the junction to the power station on the line to Gaza was named Shikma Junction . As short as the new route is, it is so important. It was initially used to build the port. Since it opened, it has been used to transport a large proportion of the goods exported by Israel, in particular potash and phosphate extracted from the Dead Sea and Sinai . In addition, there was imported coal for the Rutenberg power plant a little further south . Since 1990 the port has had its own loading facility for 40 million US dollars, from which particularly heavy coal trains with central buffer couplings - otherwise the IR screw couplings  - ran to the power station. This transport system has now been replaced by a dedicated port facility for the Rutenberg power plant.

In 1964 the foundation stone was laid for a further route extension. The IR tackled the 36 km long route to the city of Dimona , a city in the Negev desert where the Israeli Negev nuclear research center is located. It was opened for freight traffic in September 1965, and passenger traffic began in 1967. The location of the station on the outskirts of the city was chosen very unfavorably, the railway could not prevail against the competing bus traffic. In December 1979 passenger traffic was therefore stopped. In the end it consisted of only two pairs of trains between Tel Aviv Darom and Dimona. The railway is exposed to tough bus competition here, which runs to the city center every ten minutes. However, passenger traffic was officially discontinued in order to gain line capacity for freight traffic. The Tel Aviv South Station was almost deserted; only the one pair of trains to and from Jerusalem woke him for a short time from his “deep sleep”. In 2005 passenger traffic to Dimona was resumed. This is done today with shuttle trains to the Be'er Scheva Tzafon / University station, where there is a connection to the trains on the main IR route, the Nahariyya - Be'er Sheva railway line . The layout of the Be'er Scheva train station on the outskirts was also disadvantageous. This error was not corrected until 1999, after 43 years.

The six day war and its consequences

During the Six Day War , Israel gained control of Sinai, among other things . Around 300 km of Egyptian railway lines were taken over in the Sinai , especially the Sinai Railway between al-Qantara East and Gaza and the railway that runs parallel to the Suez Canal on its eastern bank to the port of Taufiq . About 19 km were missing between the Israeli border and the end point of the Egyptian railroad in Gaza. The gap was closed between June 9 and 20, 1967. On June 20, the first freight train since the Sinai campaign left Al-Arish station in the direction of Lod. Numerous Egyptian railway vehicles that had previously been collected in Al-Arish were lined up in this train. This included eight diesel locomotives. The Egyptian locomotives, like the Israeli diesel locomotives, were manufactured by General Motors , which made operation and maintenance easier. In addition, four G12 locomotives with the corresponding Israeli machines were largely identical. They have been included in the IR locomotive fleet. These machines were mainly used in Israel on the routes south of Lod. The loot also included a few passenger cars and 570 freight cars. Most of the freight cars could not be used and were scrapped.

In July 1967, the IR assembled a train of two G12 machines and a colorful row of freight cars to test the track on the line to al-Qantara and further along the Suez Canal to asch-Schatt. The expedition dragged on because sand had blown the track in places. The flat car, which was pushed in front of the first locomotive as a mine detector, derailed several times. The troops in Sinai could now be supplied by rail. But soon the old problems of the Sinai line arose: Sand constantly flooded the line. The Egyptians solved the problem by using a large number of workers to shovel free. It was not affordable for the Israelis. Therefore, operations between the Canal and al-Arish were stopped and the line dismantled in order to block the material for the fortification of the Bar Lev line . It wasn't until decades later that Egypt began again to push the railway towards Rafah.

In the summer of 1968, the passenger trains were moved from the old route between Remez Junction and Rosh HaAjin to the route near the coast. A few years later, the old route from Hadera East to the south also lost freight traffic. Today it is no longer understandable why in 1953, when the stretch along the Mediterranean Sea was finished, passenger traffic was not relocated to today's mainline, since over the years the two daily train pairs between Haifa and Jerusalem have always been exposed to the risk of being shot at when they drove along the then Jordanian border. Only now, after the border had disappeared, was the route of the trains moved. Perhaps Israel wanted to "show its flag" in earlier times. The winter timetable 1961/62 indicated six pairs of trains on the Jerusalem – Tel Aviv Darom route (South Station). By 1977 the number had dropped to two. That was the same number as it was on the Jaffa-Jerusalem Railway in 1892.

In 1970 Tel Aviv received a new south station in a new location, but it was far from the center. The old Südbahnhof was closer to the center, but a level crossing on the adjoining line prevented the heavy traffic.

In March 1970, another new line went into operation in the Negev: the 29 km extension from Dimona to the phosphate mines in Oron . Connected to it are 14 km of track to the east to the chemical works at Tzefa . None of these routes was ever used for passenger traffic. The worldwide demand for phosphates and potash increased exports, in which IR is very involved. It drives these bulk goods to the port of Ashdod and the chemical plants in Haifa. After a new phosphate mine was opened in Har Tzin , a 34 km long route was built from Oron to the loading facility there. The section in the Negev desert was particularly difficult to route due to the terrain. On December 13, 1977, it was put into operation with a special train for invited guests. In the opening addresses it was pointed out that this was another milestone on the way to the port of Eilat. Elat - this still not reached destination on the Red Sea has been talked about since the late 1950s. Here, too, the competition from the road is noticeable in the area of ​​classic rail transport tasks in bulk freight transport.

In the meantime, passenger rail traffic between Gaza and Tel Aviv was resumed for a short time in 1972. With it, Arab workers could go to Israel and back again. The connection was discontinued after the outbreak of unrest.

The time after the Yom Kippur War

During the Yom Kippur War , the IR proved itself as a reliable means of mass transport.

How important road traffic had become in the meantime is shown by an offer from 1975, when the national bus company Egged showed an interest in taking over passenger transport from IR. Egged argued that bus traffic between Tel Aviv and Haifa was uneconomical and that traffic between the two cities was to be shifted entirely to rail. It remains to be seen whether this was the real intention or whether the idea behind it was to get rid of the competitor, the rail, by buying it up and shutting it down.

At the beginning of the 1970s, the northernmost IR route from Haifa to Naharija was threatened with closure. The access offer had reached a low point. Compared to buses and collective taxis on the parallel main road, the trains were slow and uncomfortable. As a result, the superstructure was revised: New tracks with concrete sleepers were laid from Haifa to shortly before Akko. Industrial companies around the Bay of Haifa received sidings. Nahariya train station has been redesigned. The success in passenger numbers justified the investment. However, there was no longer any passenger traffic north of Nahariya at the time of the IR; From the former Haifa – Beirut – Tripoli line, the section to Bezet has only been preserved on the Israeli side for freight traffic.

On the route to Dimona, the transport of minerals increased from year to year. A large part of the cargoes is (and was) shipped via the port of Ashdod. Until the opening of the new “ Heletz Line”, the connection from Kirjat Gat to the coast on November 17, 1982, it was connected with a long detour via Lod, where the locomotives also had to move to then via the former Haifa -Gaza-Bahn to approach Ashdod. The construction of the 21 km long shortcut route from Kirjat Gat to Pleshet Junction south of Ashkelon began in early 1980. It shortens the route by 17 km. The old main line from Ashkelon to Pleshet Junction has been reconditioned. The total construction costs at the time were 23 million US dollars. The maximum slope on the new section is 13 ‰.

Period of stagnation (1975-1990)

While the road network was expanded on a large scale, the rail network remained largely the same as in the 1950s. In addition, passenger traffic in the area with the greatest demand, Tel Aviv, has decreased since 1970, also because the Tel Aviv South Station had been relocated away from the city center in favor of car and bus traffic, where it was barely popular. Even on the IR route with the highest demand (Tel Aviv – Haifa), passenger numbers fell by half from the early 1970s to the late 1980s. In 1977 the IR had a share of only 0.8% of the traffic volume nationwide. This was due to a transport policy that was clearly aimed at expanding the road network. Increases in freight tariffs and increasing freight transport did not help to make up for the deficit that had arisen in passenger transport. In contrast to passenger traffic, the volume of freight traffic doubled between 1972 and 1988. The share of total traffic in the country was 20%.

The most intensively used stretch of the entire network is the Tel Aviv – Haifa connection near the coast. In the early 1980s, the shortest travel time between Haifa Bat Galim and Tel Aviv Merkaz was an hour. At that time, the seamlessly welded track and security by means of light signals were introduced on the single-track line. As of July 19, 1997, the shortest journey time was 49 minutes, but there was no train departure in Israel after 8.30 p.m. (A “Midnight Special” drove between Haifa and Tel Aviv for a while. He even drove a movie car in which videos were shown. The experiment was unsuccessful, however.)

In 1984 there was passenger train traffic only between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as well as Nahariyya and Tel Aviv, so no longer to Be'er Scheva. A pair of trains ran Sunday through Friday between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that took almost two hours. The bus travel time, however, was one hour. The trains were never full, the stations were far from the city centers. There was also a pair of trains from Haifa to Jerusalem, which also ran from Sunday to Friday.

The route through the Gaza Strip to Egypt still existed, but was already heavily overgrown and was no longer operated south of Ashkelon.

In 1985 there was an hourly service on the route north of Tel Aviv, where trains ran at speeds of up to 120 km / h. The travel times to Haifa - depending on the number of stops - were 66 to 93 minutes for 92 kilometers, 5¦6 pairs of trains went to Naharija. The popularity of travelers was good. In the field of freight transport, there were reports of nightly block trains with imported coal for the power station near Hadera.

With the introduction of the summer timetable on April 6, 1986, the daily train between Tel Aviv Darom and Jerusalem was discontinued and the South Station (Darom) was closed. The number of passengers getting on or off there had decreased from year to year. There was only one pair of trains left from Haifa via Rosh HaAyin and Lod to Jerusalem. Only tourists and a few commuters still used the trains; the competition with the well-developed bus expressway seemed hopeless. However, maintaining rail services to Jerusalem was a matter of prestige for the city, which claims to be the capital of Israel. The single-track line was extensively renovated from 1998 to 2005.

In 1986, light signals replaced the old British shape signals north of Haifa.

Also in 1986 the Israeli State Auditor reprimanded the IR for negligent maintenance of the facilities; in some cases he even saw passengers at risk. Over half of the IR freight car fleet and several passenger cars were at least thirty years old. With the maintenance scope determined, each vehicle was only serviced once every twenty years. The auditor also found that of the existing 44 mainline and 13 shunting locomotives between 1983 and 1985, almost every second machine was parked for repair work. Railway operations proved to be more and more prone to disruption: prolonged rain in the winter of 1987/88 disrupted the main line between Tel Aviv and Haifa. The light signal system that had reached the end of its useful life was particularly susceptible and was gradually replaced. The trains between Haifa and Tel Aviv often suffered delays of half an hour, occasionally even a full hour - with a scheduled journey time of 60 to 90 minutes for the 90 km long route. The poor condition of the railway led to the resignation of the general director.

On January 10, 1988, the tracks of the old central station of Tel Aviv (Merkaz) were closed. From the following morning, the trains left the new platforms. At this point in time, the renovation was far from complete. Safety technology was not ordered until three months later, and the turnouts remained locally operated until they were installed. Trains ran on written orders, which caused delays. The city council of Tel Aviv had urged the IR to quickly evacuate the old station area so that the Netiwei-Ajalon expressway could be built. Parts of it run in the area of ​​the old track. The new station officially went into operation on May 3, 1988.

At that time, a serious accident occurred in Moshav HaBonim, south of Haifa, where a train drove into a school bus that had come to a halt on a level crossing. 21 people were killed, mostly children.

After 1990

Route expansion

For many years the IR was run as a separate commercial enterprise of the Ministry of Transport. In 1988 the IR became part of the Ports and Railways Authority . Behind this was the political will to bring the railroad up to date, especially passenger traffic, because the port authority works for a profit. Cross-subsidies should finally enable investments that could not be carried out due to a lack of capital. The train should be an attractive alternative to the ever-increasing, sometimes collapsing road traffic.

The government and the Knesset (Parliament) Economic Committee set tariffs as part of general transport policy. The passenger train service was subsidized with 30% of its costs. Freight traffic was no longer subsidized, although the freight costs were fixed and in some cases did not cover the costs.

The government showed interest in a direct connection of the successful northern line from Naharija / Haifa with the network south of Tel Aviv, i.e. in a direct connection of the Tel Aviv terminal stations Darom and Merkaz without the time-consuming, extensive round trip around the north and east of the city, which up to then it was necessary. The required space was created by the running between the carriageways of the north-south highway River Ayalon was channeled. (During heavy rainfall, however, the tracks were occasionally flooded. After heavy rainfall in the winters of 1991/92 and 1992/93, the Tel Aviv central station was flooded three times.) On January 31, 1993, the 4.5 km long line between Tel Aviv Merkaz and the Darom Südbahnhof will be put into operation. The project to connect the two stations was accompanied by obstacles for years. As a special surprise, the remains of a six-thousand-year-old Chalcolithic settlement turned up on the construction site, four meters below the current surface . The lack of four million US dollars threatened to let the project fail. A road bridge over the planned route was also built so low that the originally planned route had to be relocated. As a result, the new Merkaz station is to the east of the old terminal station. Since the old station building is still in use, passengers are directed to the new, lowered platforms via a walkway. The route was expanded to include two stations, "haHagana" and "University".

A depot with a three-hour repair hall was built in Dimona for three million US dollars and handed over on January 2, 1990. In this way, transfer trips of Negev locomotives for maintenance and repair to Haifa East could be restricted.

At the beginning of August 1990, the important connection route to the Rutenberg coal-fired power plant, 42 km south of Ashdod, was opened. As the southern line to Gaza is no longer passable, this siding is today's southern end of the historical line towards Sinai. On the site of the power plant, the trains drive through a turning loop. They have had their own loading facility in the port of Ashdod since 1990.

From around 1990 the main Tel Aviv – Haifa line, then approved for 105 km / h, was expanded and a second track was laid on some sections. One goal was to increase the top speed. During test drives, 125 km / h were achieved. The double-track lines are designed for track changing operations; In regular operation, left-hand driving is in the British tradition.

Some sections in the IR network were supplemented by a second track from 1990 onwards, which required the construction of additional platforms and platform roofs. The signal system also had to be adapted. The Tel Aviv – Netanya section was expanded to two tracks, and train traffic was increased. All of this was part of a substantial investment upgrade program after decades of neglect.

On March 6, 1991 the passenger train service between Tel Aviv Darom (South) and Jerusalem, which had been discontinued in April 1986, was resumed. Two trains each left the terminal stations at 00:00 and 16:00, they crossed in Bet Shemesh. At the same time, the Haifa – Jerusalem train pair was restricted to the Haifa – Tel Aviv Merkaz (Central) route. Since then, no passenger trains have traveled on the Tel Aviv ring line between Tel Baruch Junction and Lod via Bnei Berak.

In 1991 the Minister of Transport approved investments in passenger transport amounting to NIS 500 million. The railway development plan for the next ten years contained expansions of passenger traffic, including on new lines, and an increase in train frequency on the existing lines.

October 15, 1991 was the first day on which a new, denser timetable was in effect. Among other things, a new passenger train connection between Tel Aviv Darom and Rechowot (south of Tel Aviv) on the old main route to Egypt. It quickly became so attractive that from 1998 onwards, 13 train pairs were offered daily. Some are tied through to Netanya, Haifa or Nahariya. With the improved offer, IR was able to achieve a passenger increase of 16%. Despite the encouraging figures, the government announced that it would allocate the US $ 500 million earmarked for rail investments to road construction. The following winter showed where such decisions lead: After several years of drought, it was very severe in Israel, as it was everywhere in the Middle East. Torrent-like rains, storms, floods and heavy snowfalls caused numerous damage and road traffic disruptions. At the end of February 1992 the Kishon flooded the entire Haifa Bay. Jerusalem was closed from the outside world for two days after snowstorms. While roads were impassable due to snow and floods, the railroad ran largely unhindered. The IR set up an emergency service with additional trains between Haifa and Naharija and on the route to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv Darom (south). The trains were fully occupied.


The first Danish diesel multiple unit, corresponding to an IC3 set , arrived in Israel on June 14, 1992 , the first test drive took place on June 18, and on June 21 the new vehicle was presented to a selected public and the media. In the middle of October another four of these sets were unloaded in the port of Haifa.

After the IC3 units had completed numerous test drives on various routes, they began their regular service on November 23, 1992. They initially ran three round trips a day between Tel Aviv and Haifa, two in addition to the existing timetable. The attempt of the IR to charge a higher, special fare for this failed. The passengers took the cheaper “normal” trains. Since January 31, 1993, the regular prices have therefore also applied to the IC3 sets. This was also the day the Ajalon Corridor in Tel Aviv went into operation. The timetable, which was fundamentally revised for this purpose, now for the first time tied through trains on a large scale from the northern and southern parts of the IR network. A continuous Jerusalem – Haifa train was also on offer again.


On July 13, 1998, the line between Jaziz and Jerusalem came to an end after four derailments occurred within two days. In 1997, six trains were derailed on this section. It was not until 2005 that operations could be resumed after thorough renovation.

Passenger traffic to Beersheba ceased between 1979 and the beginning of 1997. Then the line was prepared for 150 km / h. Since July 1999, when the train ticket was increased to three pairs Monday to Wednesday and four pairs Sunday and Thursday, the number of passengers has skyrocketed. In 1999, Be'er Scheva received a new train station closer to the city and finally an hourly service to Tel Aviv.

Route network

Israel Railway route network (in English)
Route network of the Israeli railways including former lines of the Palestine Railways (blue: passenger / passenger and freight traffic; green: freight traffic only; red: under construction; gray: closed)

The traffic routing is strongly influenced by the geographic conditions. Plains that are favorable for traffic exist mainly along the coasts, followed by mountain ranges in the Galilee and the West Bank , which drop abruptly further east to the Jordan Rift.

Due to these conditions, the routes of the Israeli railroad mainly run in the coastal and Jezreel plains, as well as in the northern Negev. Exceptions are the railway lines from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the line from Akko to Karmiel, and the former connection to the Hejaz Railway through the Jordan Valley. The route network has a total length of around 600 kilometers.

The routes in detail:

Distance from – to over Explanations
Tel Aviv-Nahariya Herzlija - Netanya - Haifa - Akko This route originally had a continuation via Beirut to the north; Remains of the railway tracks still exist north of Nahariya. The tunnels on the Israeli-Lebanese border directly on the Mediterranean coast can be visited (see Rosh HaNikra ). Double track to Kirjat Motzkin . Two-track Kirjat Motzkin-Naharija under construction.
Tel Aviv - Kfar Saba Petach Tikva - Rosh HaAyin Two-pronged
Rosh HaAyin - Lod Freight line. Previously had a continuation to Hadera. Single track
Branching Shapirim– Modi'in Merkaz Ben Gurion Airport –Pe'atei Modi'in Two-pronged
Lod– Rishon leTzion / haRishonim Two-pronged
Palehet-Ashdod port junction Freight line to the port of Ashdod. Single track.
Lod – Ashkelon Rechowot - Jawne - Ashdod Formerly via Gaza and Sinai to Egypt . Two-track between Lod and Rechowot and between the Paleschet and Ashkelon junction.
Ashkelon – Kirjat Gat Freight line. Single track.
Lod– Tzin Desert Kirjat Gath – Beer Sheva – Dimona From Dimona only freight traffic. A continuation through the Arava valley to Eilat has been planned for a long time. Double track to BeerSheva under construction.
Dimona– Mishor Rotem Freight route to phosphate mine and gas power plant and transshipment station for Dead Sea minerals. Single track.
Be'er Sheva North / University – Be'er Sheva Center Distance from the main line to the terminus in the city center of Be'er Scheva. Two-pronged construction.
Be'er Scheva-Nord / University - Ramat Chovav Freight line to the Ramat Chovav industrial area. Single track.
(Tel Aviv) –Na'an – Jerusalem Bet Schemesch After extensive renovation, fully operational again since 2005. The route overcomes a height difference of 700 meters over a distance of 50 kilometers. Single track.

Vehicle fleet

So far, diesel locomotives (around 120 locomotives of various types in total) have been used in the route network. The electrification of the railway system is planned. 40 diesel-electric railcars are available for intercity traffic. In addition to around 160 passenger cars, Israel Railways (IR) uses around 700 freight cars.

First locomotives

The first decade of the IR was a period of expansion and renewal. In 1952 the first diesel locomotives were built for the IR. First, however, the diesel locomotives had to share their tasks with the abundant steam locomotives. The supplier was the Société Anglo-Franco-Belge (SAFB) in La Croyère. The Electro Motive Division of GM, USA, contributed the drive part. The locomotives had an output of 827 kW (1125 hp). Their service weight is 84 t. They are robustly built and have proven to be almost indestructible. In 1999 there were still two operational. Since the SAFB locomotives proved their worth right from the start, a second order for five machines, manufactured in 1954, soon followed. GM delivered these completely. By 1966, no fewer than 23 locomotives of this type were put into service with the IR.

Between 1955 and 1957, Maschinenfabrik Esslingen supplied 18 three-axle locomotives of the German V 60 series for shunting services and local freight trains . Other diesel locomotives from Germany were three two-axle vehicles from Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz AG (KHD). The Esslingen diesel locomotive with the number 212 was handed over to the Israeli Railway Museum in Haifa after it was retired . The Deutz locomotive 203 also went there, although it had previously received the number plates of the 201 for reasons that were no longer comprehensible.

IR did not have a lucky hand when it - also from Maschinenfabrik Esslingen - ordered three-part diesel multiple units based on the German VT 08 . The Esslingen diesel multiple units, like the V 60, were part of German reparations to Israel.

The first of the Esslingen diesel multiple units was delivered in early 1956. Equipped with 1000 hp Maybach engines and hydraulic power transmission, they reached a top speed of 120 km / h. Some of these vehicles were made to order by Linke-Hofmann-Busch . The seats were arranged in large rooms 2 + 3, the interiors were covered with dark veneer. A set from Esslingen was given the honor of being the first official train to arrive in Beersheba. Despite warnings that such a highly developed technical product is unsuitable for a Middle Eastern country with a lot of dust, great heat and little trained personnel, the series was completed. A production stop was recommended in October 1956, but too late. So the Maybach engines and power transmission systems were a constant source of trouble. As a result, the engines were removed and the trains were drawn with diesel locomotives. After the passenger train service to Be'er Scheva and Dimona was given up in 1979, the Esslingen multiple units were largely superfluous and were shut down in 1980. For a long time, those responsible at IR thought about what could happen to the vehicles. A sale abroad was considered. Some of the intermediate cars were converted into normal passenger carriages, but most of them now eke out a living on sidings. Today they are found scattered throughout the country, used as secondary. One car was found as a restaurant in Haifa, one is secured for the railway museum there. As a result, railcars were again unable to assert themselves in Israel.

The IR drew a small benefit from the Sinai campaign of 1956: a large amount of railway material was captured that the Egyptians had left behind during their hasty retreat to the west. These included six locomotives and numerous passenger and freight cars. The locomotives were immediately assigned to operations and used. These included five Egyptian steam locomotives, all 1'D machines with tenders of the 545 series . The North British Locomotive Company built three in 1928 , and Borsig built the other two in 1931 . They were scrapped along with the last Israeli steam locomotives from 1959. The sixth locomotive was a class 4211 diesel locomotive that was scrapped in 1970.

Vehicle fleet from 1989

In 1989 the IR received a six-axle diesel-electric freight locomotive with a type GT26CW-2 final driver's cab from General Motors (EMD) with 2206 kW (3000 hp). It was given the IR number 701 and is a reinforced version of the type of freight locomotive already used by the IR. It is to be used in front of the coal trains that have been running since 1990 on the 42 km route between the new unloading facility in the port of Ashdod and the also new Rutenberg power plant near Ashkelon. The power plant has its own siding with a turning loop.

First new passenger coaches

The passenger coaches of the Palestine Railways outlived the steam locomotives for many years. The IR freshened up their appearance by giving them a gray paint job, which was broken up by a red band just below the window. The color of the wagons matched the diesel locomotives. Inside, padded seats replaced the wooden seats of the former third class. The railway carries - which is probably handed down from the socialist founding years of the State of Israel - until today only one single class in its passenger trains.

It was not until 1955 before new wagons came to Israel and the image of the new railway was not only expressed in new locomotives. These cars, eight in number, were built by the German company Orenstein & Koppel . It introduced a model that proved its worth, and the type was subsequently procured several times with only minor changes: This happened for the first time in 1961. The supplier of the 14 cars was the Établissements Carel et Fouché in Aubevoye (France). The floor plan with double doors at each end of the car and large rooms with seats in face-to-face arrangement has survived to this day. Initially, with a 3 + 2 seating arrangement, the cars were very spartan. Dark green synthetic leather seats, dark brown wall paneling and weak lighting created an unappealing atmosphere in the evenings. For the majority of potential travelers, the low level of comfort offered no serious alternative to rapidly developing private transport. Only later did Israeli transport policy place more emphasis on convenience.

In 1958 another order went to Europe, this time to the Yugoslav company Boris Kidrić in Maribor . Their first delivery also consisted of 14 cars. The other deliveries were spread over the following years until the forty-third and last wagon of this type came to Israel in 1972. Compared to their predecessors, the Yugoslavian wagons had a considerably friendlier interior. Light blue or light gray seat covers and good lighting made traveling in them much more pleasant in comparison.

Two French and six Yugoslavian cars as well as several converted control cars from former Esslingen railcars were equipped as half-buffet cars, with normal seats in one half of the car, while the passengers were offered food and drinks in the other half.

400 freight and passenger wagons were among the imports from Germany as part of the German reparations payments . In 1962, about half of the passenger cars consisted of vehicles acquired with Shilumim funds . The IR was generally satisfied with the material supplied from Germany.

Passenger car procurement from 1977

In 1977 IR bought eight used passenger cars in order to win new passengers for the Tel Aviv – Haifa route. These open seating cars, 2nd class, with 62 seats in a face-to-face arrangement of the type Mark 2 C, built in Derby in 1970 and delivered to British Rail on November 7, 1970 , were the most comfortable cars that the IR had until then gave. They have been refurbished and given a two-tone paint job - light blue above, dark blue below. Actually, IR wanted to buy Italian railcars of the tried and tested type ALn 668 . However, financial restrictions made it impossible to buy new vehicles. A few years earlier, the IR had already considered buying British cars and made an inquiry to the BR about the purchase of used Mark 2 cars. Since the cars were supposed to be air-conditioned, but BR did not have any of these in its second-hand car range, it was initially impossible to buy them.

Due to the lack of air conditioning and small ventilation openings, however, the cars were very unpopular with passengers. To make matters worse, Khamsin prevailed during the introduction of the chariots .

Procurement of passenger cars from 1989

The old passenger coaches from Orenstein and Koppel were converted into generator coaches in 1989 . They are used to supply energy to the wagon trains, including the air conditioning , since the Israeli diesel locomotives were not equipped with supply facilities for the train bus .

ABB Scandia in Denmark received an order valued at approximately $ 52 million to supply ten three-part diesel multiple units of the Danish MF series - called "Krono'im" in Hebrew. Later about a third of the trains at the IAI Ramta company in Israel were built under license - partly from prefabricated parts - the rest in Randers in Denmark. The first Danish diesel multiple unit arrived in Israel on June 14, 1992, the first test drive took place on June 18, and on June 21 the new vehicle was presented to a select public and the media. Another four were unloaded in the port of Haifa in mid-October. The last lot was delivered in 1996.

An original procurement of wagons took place in 1996: Eight French stainless steel wagons from a larger series procured for the SNCF from 1959 . They were built by Etablissements Carel et Fouché under license from the American Budd Manufacturing Co . The specialty is the use of stainless steel for the outer skin. The cars have no air conditioning and were therefore replaced in France in 1977.

Also in 1996, IR used push-pull train sets for the first time, which were manufactured by GEC-Alsthom , Barcelona, ​​and at least partially assembled by Haargaz in Israel. In October 1996 they were on test drives, on December 9, 1996 they started their scheduled service. Maximum speed is 160 km / h.

Double-decker train near Haifa

In 1999, IR ordered four double-decker trains from Bombardier, consisting of three medium-sized cars and one control car. An option was agreed for further trains. The wagons were manufactured by the Görlitz plant of DWA (formerly Deutsche Waggonbau AG ), part of the Bombardier group , and delivered in 2001. The Israeli company Ramta is involved in the interior work as a subcontractor. In 2010, 150 double-decker cars were in use, in 2012 the fleet grew to 222 cars. In 2017, IR had 293 double-decker cars in stock and 54 cars had been ordered. On June 6, 2019, IR ordered 74 Twindexx Vario double-decker cars from Bombardier . After delivery is complete in December 2021, Israel Railways will operate a fleet of 586 double-decker cars.

A special feature of the double-decker cars that have been delivered to Israel so far are the diesel generator systems built into the control cars to supply power to the car trains.

From March 3 to April 6, 1998, a VT-611 set of the DB from Kaiserslautern was on loan for test purposes on Israeli tracks. Two Israeli train drivers had obtained the relevant driving license in Germany. The vehicle came by sea via Rotterdam, where a Dutch locomotive had towed it from Bad Bentheim. In Israel, the railcars were stationed in Av Kishon. The company was accompanied by a high degree of publicity. The then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also took part in a cab ride. Israeli television reported extensively about it.

passenger traffic


Double-decker coach of the IR from German production in Tel Aviv Central Station; the front part of the control car is a generator car
Fast train of the IR in the train station of Ben Gurion Airport
The IR express train arrives at Tel Aviv HaHagana station from Lod

Not all sections of the Israeli railroad are used for passenger transport. Passenger trains run between Nahariyya and Tel Aviv; also from Tel Aviv on the routes to Kfar Saba, Rishon leTzion / HaRishonim, Ashkelon, Beersheba, Jerusalem and to Ben Gurion Airport. There is a connection to Dimona from Beersheba.

There are three intercity lines:

  • Nahariyya - Tel Aviv
  • Tel Aviv - Beer Sheva
  • Tel Aviv - Jerusalem

The Nahariyya intercity line was extended in October 2004 to the newly opened train station at Ben Gurion Airport. The most important transfer station is Tel Aviv Merkaz (center).

The other connections are regional connections.

Passenger traffic is limited to Monday through Friday and Sunday. On the “Jewish Sunday”, the Sabbath , a Saturday, all public life in the country comes to a standstill. That is why there are generally no trains.

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of passengers (see section Railways 2000 and New Deal ).

Transport statistics passenger transport

year Number of passengers in millions year Number of passengers in millions year Number of passengers in millions
1950 1.5 2003 19.8 2017 64.6
1960 4.4 2004 22.9 2018 67.7
1970 4.1 2005 26.8 2019 69.0
1980 3.3 2006 28.4
1990 2.5 2007 31.8
1996 5.5 2008 35.1
1997 5.6 2009 35.9
1998 6.4 2010 35.9
1999 8.8 2013 45.0
2000 12.7 2014 48.5
2001 15.1 2015 53.0
2002 17.5 2016 59.5

Passengers Israel railroad ep.png

Served passenger stations

See list of passenger stations in Israel .

Freight transport


Freight trains run on the entire Israeli rail network, with the exception of the Haifa – Nahariyya, Lod – Jerusalem, Lod – HaRishonim and Tel Aviv – Ben-Gurion Airport routes.

Like passenger traffic, freight traffic has increased significantly in recent years. The IR now transports over 10 million tons of goods each year, mainly phosphates, coal and containers. The railroad is an important land bridge for the two seaports in Haifa and Ashdod.

The handling of minerals from the Negev in 1980 was 2.5 million tons. About twelve to 16 trains ran daily on the Negev route, each weighing up to 4,000 tons.

85% of the goods carried by the IR can be divided into six classes: grain, phosphates, potash (potassium carbonate), fuels, gravel and containers.

Phosphates, potash and grain alone account for 75% of the transport performance in tkm / ton-kilometers.

90% of the goods transported have their origin in just three places: the port of Haifa, the Dimona train station and the phosphate mining areas in the Negev desert. About 80% of the goods are destined for five destinations: the port of Ashdod, Bnei Berak, Lod, port of Haifa and the industry in the Akkon / Nahariyya area. The most important destination is the port of Ashdod, where phosphates and potash from the Negev are transported. The IR was able to attract a significant amount of traffic. Compared to other countries, however, the IR freight traffic is characterized by comparatively short and consequently not very economical transport routes.

The traffic from Ashdod to the Rutenberg power plant consists of 5 block trains a day, which are composed of a total of 150 60-ton self-unloading wagons. The trolleys are dust-tight and replace the transport on a conveyor belt, the dust generation of which was an environmental problem. They are the only ones in the IR system to have a central buffer claw coupling, while the rest of the company uses screw couplings.


year Freight transport
in million tons
2015 7.5
2016 9.2
2017 9.2
2018 8.5
2019 8.5

Expansion programs


The Railways 2000 program was launched in the 1990s . In view of the major problems with increasing individual traffic, the aim was to increase the importance of the railroad and to divert more traffic to the railways. The New Deal program was primarily about expanding the suburban lines in the greater Tel Aviv area and another suburban line in Haifa. As part of the program, many track sections have been renovated, expanded and, in some cases, rebuilt, stations have been renovated and new locomotives and wagons have been purchased in recent years. Through these measures, IR was able to record considerable growth; On some routes, demand increased several times over within a few years. The number of trains increased considerably from 80 (in 1995, passenger trains per day in the entire network) to 350 (in 2001). The relative growth rates in passenger numbers are in the double-digit percentage range every year.

In addition, there was a five-year plan for 2003–2008 for these massive investments, which was extended for three more years in 2006 and expanded to include a number of important projects. Investments from 2003 to 2011 amount to 30 billion new Israeli shekels .

In the future, further line extensions, the gradual electrification of the railway lines and the integration of the railway into the bus network of the Israeli bus company Egged are to be achieved . These measures are expected to increase the volume of goods to 15 million tonnes by 2009; according to a feasibility study, the number of passengers could rise to 72 million by 2012 (for comparison: in 1990 the IR carried 7 million tonnes of goods and 2.5 million passengers, im In 2000, freight traffic was around 10 million tons, and 13 million passengers have already been counted).

Completed projects from 2003

  • April 2003: Reopening of the renewed Lod – Rosh HaAjin railway line (18 km, freight line)
  • April 12, 2003: Opening of the Rosh HaAjin Tzafon train station (north)
  • September 13, 2003: New railway line Rosh HaAjin Tzafon – Kfar Saba, including Kfar Saba-Hod haScharon station (renamed to Hod haScharon station).
  • September 13, 2003: new railway line between Be'er Ja'akow and Rishon leTzijon (3 km), including HaRishonim station.
  • September 13, 2003: Reopening of the renewed Na'an – Bet Shemesh railway line and the construction of a new station in Bet Shemesh.
  • June 2004: Commissioning of the second track between the Paleschet junction (to the port of Ashdod) and Ashdod train station (7 km). New construction of the Ashdod – Ad Halom station.
  • June 1, 2004: new railway line Be'er Sheva – industrial area Ramat Chovav (13 km, freight line)
  • October 10, 2004: new railway line to Ben Gurion Airport (8 km).
  • April 2005: Reopening of the renewed railway line Bet Shemesh – Jerusalem, construction of the Jerusalem-Biblical Zoo station and construction of the Jerusalem-Malcha station .
  • December 2005: Commissioning of the second track between Ashdod and Ashkelon, construction of the Ashkelon station and start of travel between Ashdod and Ashkelon.
  • December 2005: resumption of travel between Be'er Scheva and Dimona, including new construction of the Dimona train station and route improvements (35 km).
  • September 2, 2006: new railway line within Kfar Saba (from Kfar Saba-Hod haScharon to Kfar Saba Sokolow, 2 km).
  • September 2, 2006: Commissioning of the second track between Petach Tikwa and Kfar Saba
  • September 2, 2006: Fourth track between Tel Aviv-University and Tel Aviv-Merkaz and third track between Tel Aviv-Merkaz and Tel Aviv-haHagana, including station extensions in Tel Aviv-Merkaz, Tel Aviv-haShalom and Tel Aviv-haHagana.
  • December 30, 2006: Track curve between the Lod – Rosh HaAjin line and Ben Gurion Airport – Jerusalem / Modi'in
  • June 23, 2007: new Lehavim - Rahat train station on the Kirjat Gat – Be'er Sheva line.
  • September 1, 2007: New Ben Gurion Airport – Pe'tei Modi'in railway line.
  • April 1, 2008: new railway line Pe'atei Modi'in – Modi'in Merkaz.
  • May 3, 2008: new station Petach Tikwa-Kirjat Arje between Bnei Brak and Petach Tikwa-Segula.
  • May 10, 2008: new Lod-Gannei Aviv train station between Kfar Chabad and Lod.
  • September 5, 2009: Opening of the newly built train station in Jawne
  • 2009–2010: Construction and opening of 10 railway under / overpasses
  • September 25, 2011: New railway line Tel Aviv HaHagana - Rishon LeTzion Moshe Dayan
  • February 25, 2012: New railway line Rishon LeTzion Moshe Dayan - Yavne Ma'arav (West)
  • July 15, 2012: Opening of the straightened and doubled railway line Lod - Be'er Scheva.
  • 2012: Commissioning of the second track between Tel Aviv University and Petach Tikwa.
  • 4th August 2013: new Yavne Ma'arav (West) - Paleshet railway line. The inauguration of this section enables train connections from Tel Aviv to Ashdod / Ashkelon via Holon, Bat Yam, Rishon LeTzion and Yavne.
  • November 25, 2013: Commissioning of the second track between Kirjat Motzkin and Nahariyya.
  • December 23, 2013: new railway line from Ashkelon to Sderot.
  • February 15, 2015: new railway line from Sderot to Netivot.
  • September 19, 2015: new railway line between Netivot and Beer Sheva
  • January 2, 2016: Inauguration of Ofakim station on the new Netivot-Beer Sheva line
  • October 16, 2016: new railway line from Haifa to Bet Sche'an (excluding Haifa-LevHamifratz station)
  • November 6, 2016: Opening of the new Netanya-Sapir train station
  • September 20, 2017: new railway line from Akko to Karmi'el
  • July 3, 2018: new railway line from Hod HaSharon-Sokolov to Ra'anana-West
  • July 3, 2018: Haifa-Lev HaMifratz is renamed Haifa-Merkazit HaMifratz; Partial expansion by commissioning the platforms on the Haifa-Bet Schean line
  • Sept. 20, 2018: Opening of the new Kirjat Malʾachi - Yoav station
  • Sept. 25, 2018: Commissioning of the electrified Tel Aviv – Jerusalem railway with the new Jerusalem - Jitzchak Nawon station
  • May 30, 2019: Opening of the new Mazkeret Batya train station

Under construction

  • Construction of a new line from Herzlia to Raanana -West
  • Four-track expansion between Tel Aviv and Herzlia
  • Electrification of part of the route network
  • Track curve between the branch line to Modi'in and the new line to Jerusalem

In planning

Further projects are to be tackled. Details and funding are controversial, especially between the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Finance. All new lines should be designed for speeds of 150 to 200 km / h:

  • Construction of a new line from Beer Sheva to Eilat . Immediately after the Six Day War in 1967, a feasibility study - with a positive evaluation of the project - had already been carried out for this "Red Med Line" as a connection between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea . The $ 2 billion project is due to start in 2014 with Chinese support. The travel time between Tel Aviv and Eilat will then be two hours and, as an alternative to the Suez Canal, enable goods to be transported from Asia to Europe.

Operating times

As a state-owned company, Israel Railways will cease operations entirely on Shabbat . Repairs to the railway infrastructure are often carried out on these days of rest, for which a special permit is required. That is why there are regular protests from ultra-orthodox Jews , which can even trigger a coalition crisis.

Palestine Railways (Autonomous Areas)

In 1996 the "Palestine Railways" were re-established as a railway company for the autonomous Palestinian territories . Theoretically, it took over the railroad in the Gaza Strip on an approximately 50 km long stretch from the Egyptian Rafah border crossing to the Israeli Erez crossing . The route is partially structurally no longer preserved. There were no more vehicles. The company never started railway operations .



  • The Israeli Railway Museum is headquartered in Haifa in the former depot , which developed from the Hejaz Railway facilities next to its former terminus there.


  • SWR: Railway Romanticism - Journey to Jerusalem (episode 388, 30 minutes, 2000). By train through Israel (45 minutes, 2011).


in alphabetical order by authors / editors

  • Paul Cotterell: Pave the way. A historical album of the railways in Israel. Hentrich & Hentrich, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-942271-20-2 .
  • Paul Cotterell: The Railways of Palestine and Israel. Tourret Books, Abington 1986, ISBN 0-905878-04-3 .
  • Harel Even: The first steps of the passenger rail revolution in Israel: The end of the 1980's and the beginning of the 1990’s . In: HaRakevet 121 (June 2018), pp. 19–24.
  • Georg Fladt-Stähle: The Railway in Israel. In: Eisenbahn-Revue International 12/2009, pp. 652–655.
  • Matthias Hille: On the rails through the Holy Land - Israel's railways today. In: Eisenbahn-Kurier , 08/2014, pp. 78–82.
  • Dieter Noll (eds.), Benno Bickel, Ahmad v. Denffer: The Hejaz Railway. A German railway in the desert. German Society for Railway History V., Werl 1997, ISBN 3-921700-68-X .
  • Erika Preissig, Günther Klebes: Railway construction and railway projects in the Orient and the economic and political goals pursued with them. In: Yearbook for Railway History , 21, 1989, pp. 43-102.
  • Richard Tourret: Hedjaz Railway. Tourret Books, Abington 1989, ISBN 0-905878-05-1 .

Web links

Commons : Israel Railways  - Collection of Pictures, Videos and Audio Files


  1. Extrapolation based on the figures from the first half of 2017.

Individual evidence

  1. a b Israel Railways - About ( Memento of the original from September 7, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (English), accessed on September 6, 2017  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. Israel Railways - Management ( Memento of the original from September 7, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (English), accessed on September 6, 2017  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Éric Chol / Gilles Fontaine: Il est midi à Pékin - Le monde à l'heure chinoise (Chapter 8: Il est 7 heures à Tel Aviv - Les Israéliens confient leurs travaux à Pékin). Librairie Arthème Fayard, Paris 2019, ISBN 978-2-213-71281-9 , pp. 71-76
  4. ^ Bombardier Double-deck Coaches Boost Israel Railways' Fleet Modernization Program. Retrieved September 18, 2014 .
  5. Bombardier: Another 54 TWINDEXX Vario double-decker cars for Israel Railways. Retrieved January 4, 2018 .
  6. Bombardier supplies a further 74 Twindexx Vario double-decker cars for Israel Railways. Retrieved June 7, 2019 .
  7. Weissman, Shahar: Annual Report, 2017 ( he , PDF) Israel Railways. Pp. 22-24. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  8. Israel Railways press release of March 25, 2020. In: HaRakevet 129 (June 2020), p. 5.
  9. Goldberg, Jeremaya: International Railway Journal ( s ) IRJ. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  10. Amiram Barkat: More Israelis traveling by train . In: Globes , February 9, 2014; accessed on February 11, 2014.
  11. Kobi Yeshayahou: Israel Railways passenger traffic up 7.5% in 2014 . In: Globes , February 1, 2015; accessed on March 28, 2015.
  12. Kevin Smith: "Cultural changes" spark turnaround at Israel Railways . In: en: International Railway Journal , March 14, 2016; Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  13. IR Anual Report - Very Positive Indeed! In: HaRakevet 117 (June 2017), pp. 4–6 (4).
  14. Map of the freight routes of the IR ( Memento of the original from October 18, 2004 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  15. IR Anual Report - Very Positive Indeed! In: HaRakevet 117 (June 2017), pp. 4–6 (5).
  16. IR Anual Report - Very Positive Indeed! In: HaRakevet 117 (June 2017), pp. 4–6 (5).
  17. IR press release of August 30, 2018. In: HaRakevet 122 (September 2018), pp. 18f (19).
  18. IR press release of March 25, 2020. In: HaRakevet 129 (June 2020), p. 4f (5).
  19. IR press release of March 25, 2020. In: HaRakevet 129 (June 2020), p. 4f (5).
  20. HaRakevet 88, March 2010, p. 3ff .; Fladt steels, p. 652.
  21. HaRakevet 96 (March 2012) - Message 96:04 (g, iv), p. 3, quoted from a February 2012 letter to the editor in the Jerusalem Post .
  22. Blair Cunningham: China seeks strategic foothold in Israel on DW .de from March 24, 2014
  23. ^ NN: Afule - Jenin Line to be Built . In: HaRakevet 117 (June 2017), p. 8.
  24. Israel's ultra-Orthodox Coalition Partner Threatens to Resign Over Shabbat Train Work , Ha-Aretz on November 17, 2017