Tel Aviv Light Rail Launch Postponed Once More
Last month, Transportation Minister Miri Regev had announced that after many delays, the Tel Aviv light rail would launch from April 26th i.e. Independence Day.
However, sources have now revealed that there is serious doubt surrounding the launch date and the light rail Red Line is expected to begin operations from May and that too partially.
The Red Line
Work on the Red Line of the light rail in Tel Aviv had first commenced in 2015 and it had been scheduled to begin operations in the start of 2021.
But, the launch date had been delayed until November 2022 and then it had gotten postponed to March 2023 and now it seems there may be another delay.
An additional agreement will also be signed by the NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd. with Tevel that will run the Red Line.
This would incur a cost of about NIS 200 million in the next decade and an NIS 130 million cost will also be incurred associated with the Chinese systems contractor.
Industry sources have said that the delays have led to the extra financial demands, but also added that contractors are also demanding more money because the NTA wants to begin operations as soon as possible.
While it is common for the budget to change where major infrastructure projects are concerned, but the Red Line has been delayed repeatedly and new agreements have also been signed.
Therefore, there are concerns that the latest agreements may also not last.
Cost of delays
According to sources that are familiar with the Red Line project, the delays in launching operations are costing about NIS 30 to NIS 50 million a month.
Since there are a number of firms involved in the project, all contractors working on the project have to be compensated due to the delays, which includes foreign workers who have to stay in Israel for longer.
Sources have also disclosed that Alstom’s signaling system had defects that have led to most of the delays and there have also been problems in integrating it with the other systems of the light rail.
However, it turns out that the signaling system issues are not the only reason behind the delays in the launch of the Red Line.
Reasons for delays
In November 2022, a report from the State Comptroller shed light on some other factors that had resulted in a delay in the launch of the Red Line at the end of 2021.
The State Comptroller’s report had said that the supervising company had mentioned a range of problems, but those had not been disclosed.
According to CTRG, it is not responsible for the delays. The Chinese company has asked for more money due to the latest postponement and also for additional items that were not mentioned in the tenders.
Yet, Israeli subcontractors asked for these items later because the NTA had asked to speed up the work, which included working at night and Chinese workers had had to extend their stay in the country.