It’s a new year and Israel is getting ready to embark on a new round of rail-ticketing initiatives, one that has the potential to transform the way Israelis travel from city to city.
But this time around, the goal is to boost passenger numbers at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.
The idea is to expand the rail network between Tel Aviv and the neighboring Palestinian cities of Nablus and Hebron.
The first stage of the project, which aims to link Tel Aviv to Nablous and Hebrons airport in 2019, is already underway.
But the Israeli rail company, Elbit, has come up with a new plan that aims to improve passenger traffic at the new airport.
The goal of the expansion plan is to increase the capacity of trains between Teles, Tel Aviv, and the Palestinian cities to between 6.6 and 8.2 million passengers a day, said Yossi Dahan, an airport director.
The expansion plan, which will be implemented by 2019, will increase passenger numbers from a daily average of 1.3 million to 2.3.
“This will result in more jobs for the people,” Dahan said.
The plan aims to expand capacity between Tel Azir and the adjacent West Bank town of Nabi Saleh.
In the next few years, the expansion plans will allow trains from Nabi Safed to Tel Aviv reach Tel Aviv on the main line, as well as to Hebron and the nearby town of Qalqilya, said Avi Ben-Ari, director of the airport’s tourism department.
Ben-Avi added that this would allow trains to reach the capital more frequently.
“We will increase our capacity by 2,000 to 3,000 a day,” Ben-Azi said.
During the summer, trains from Tel Aviv will run between the cities, while in the winter, trains will run from the city to Nabi Tulkarem.
According to the latest data, trains that run between Tel Safed and Tel Aviv average between 4,700 and 5,400 passengers a weekday.
This number includes passengers who arrive at the Israeli city of Tel Aviv by train, Ben-Baz said.
However, during the first week of January, trains between Nabi Sadeh and Tel Azirs airport dropped by 20 percent.
In addition, trains were operating between the two cities in the first three months of this year, but dropped by 70 percent from the same period last year, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Ben Azi said the current situation was not sustainable.
“There is no possibility for the new expansion plan to improve the situation,” Ben Azid said.
“If you take the situation at hand, in Tel Aviv there are a lot of people who are employed in the public transportation system and it is not good to have this level of unemployment.
I want to know how this will be solved.”
Ben-Eliyar said that the expansion of the train network to the airport is important, but that it was not a new project.
“The airport is the second biggest airport in the world,” he said.
Ben Eiseman, head of the Jerusalem branch of the Tel Aviv airport, said the expansion project will boost the passenger numbers.
“A new airport will make it easier to reach Tel Aviv, Tel Azer, and Hebras airports and the surrounding areas,” Eisaman said.
A spokesperson for the Jerusalem airport said the plan to expand passenger service is not new.
“It was already discussed at the last round of planning.
We’re planning for the first phase of the new project to begin in 2019,” the spokesperson said.