On 5 February the Israeli government unanimously approved the 350-kilometre high speed railway between Tel Aviv and the southern port city of Eilat, which is set to cut travel time to two hours. The line is scheduled to open five years from the start of construction.
The Ministry of Finance will probably object to financing the project from the budget. The project’s preliminary cost estimate is NIS 7 billion, just for laying the rail, and could go as high as NIS 30 billion, including rolling stock, double tracking the line, electrification, and peripheral equipment. The option of a private franchisee under a BOT (build, operate, transfer) project, as was done for Road 6, would probably be found to be economically unfeasible. The Chinese option is based on a government-to-government agreement, with construction going to a Chinese government company. The Ministry of Transport believes that such an agreement will render the need for a tender unnecessary.
(Source: Israel News Agency)