Tel Aviv light rail launch postponed again

AuthorAsaf Zagrizak
Published date16 March 2023
Publication titleGlobes (Rishon LeZion, Israel)
Work on the light rail Red Line began in 2015 and operations were scheduled to start at the end of 2021. The launch date was postponed until November 2022 and then March 2022 and now looks unlikely to start before May

"Globes" also understands that following the latest postponement, NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd. will sign an additional agreement with Tevel, which will operate the Red Line, costing NIS 200 million over the next decade, and the Chinese systems contractor, costing NIS 130 million. Sources in the industry say that some of the extra financial demands are justified because of the delays but that pressure by NTA to open the line as soon as possible have resulted in the contractors toughening their demands over money.

Changes in budget before the completion of major infrastructure projects are common but with the Red Line, which has been delayed time and time again, new agreements have already been signed in the past and the concern is that these latest agreements will not be the last.

Cost of delays: Tens of millions of shekels per month

Sources familiar with the project estimate that the cost in delays for opening the Red Line is NIS 30-50 million per month. As there are many companies involved in the project, each delay requires compensating contractors and those working on the project including night work and foreign workers needing to extend their stay in Israel.

According to sources in the industry, a substantial part of the delays have been caused by defects discovered in Alstom's signaling system and its integration into the light rail's other systems.

But this is not the only reason for the delays. For example, the State Comptroller's report in November 2022, highlighted other factors causing postponement of the launch at the end of 2021, when the supervising company warned about a range of problems, although the State Comptroller's report did not detail those problems.

CRTG insists that it is not to blame for these delays. Over the most recent postponements the Chinese company is...

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