Israel plans new railway lines, to run through West Bank

Plans for a West Bank railway plan serving both Israelis and Palestinians are going ahead, despite the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to co-operate with the proposal.

The railway plan ignores all current political borders. Alex Schmidt, who was hired by Israel Railways to plan the line, said: “There are 11 tracks. The central line runs parallel to the route connecting Jenin, Nablus, Jerusalem's outskirts, Hebron and Be'er Sheva.

“Another line runs along the Jordan Valley and connects to Jordan and Syria. There will also be … a line between Nablus and the Adam Bridge, Tul Karm and Nablus, and Nablus and Rosh Ha’ayin; a line connecting the Allenby Bridge to Jerusalem and Ramallah; a line from Ramallah to Lod and Tel Aviv; a line connecting Kiryat Gat to Hebron; and another line in Gaza that will make it possible to connect Ramallah with the Gaza Strip using Israeli trains.”

In response to concerns over the number of lines planned for such a small area, Mr Schmidt responded: “This is what reality on the ground requires considering the cities that have to be connected.” On the location choices, he added: “The mountain ridge line is for local passengers and commuters, whereas the valley line would serve tourists traveling to the Dead Sea, Eilat and the Sea of Galilee.”

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz is promoting the plan, and NIS 1 million has been invested in the planning process. Discussing the demand for such a railway, Mr Schmidt said: "We used the data provided by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics. We got the number of residents who work in the industrial areas. We checked how many people use private vehicles compared to how many use public transportation. We also calculated population growth. We estimate that 2035 will see 30 million train rides."

Last updated: 12:26pm, July 25 2013