The highly anticipated Yerushalayim to Tel Aviv railway embarked on its maiden voyage Sunday, in the first successful test run of the new rail link connecting the major Israeli cities, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
The test runs and infrastructure work on the new rail link are expected to last about a week and have shuttered three of Tel Aviv’s main stations, causing significant delays for Israeli commuters who must turn to alternative means of transport amid the upgrades.
Sunday’s trial run was conducted with a 1,200-ton freight train used to test the strength of the recently constructed bridges and rails along the new 37-mile high-speed route.
“This will ensure Jerusalem’s status and will give people the ability to live in it, to set up businesses, and will completely change the connection between Jerusalem and the rest of the state of Israel,” said Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz.
The Yerushalayim to Tel Aviv rail project began in 2001, and will cost an estimated $1.8 billion by the time it debuts in April 2018. When fully operational, the rail will reach speeds of 100 miles per hour and offer a significantly faster alternative to the 78-minute Yerushalayim to Yaffa route that was built during the Ottoman Empire period.