Toward a Tel Aviv S-Bahn

I have been thinking of alternatives to the current plan for a Tel Aviv Subway for several years now; last year I expounded on some principles for a better plan. As I mentioned last year, Tel Aviv’s subway system should be shaped roughly like the letter E, with a single north-south spine paralleling the rail mainline and three east-west lines intersecting the mainline at the city’s three main train stations. Today I would like to give more details about this system, with special focus on commuter rail. While thinking of how to create an optimal system serving the region’s secondary centers, I came upon an important principle used on the Paris RER and the Zurich S-Bahn, which past posts (including my own) on the subject downplayed in favor of city-center tunnels: namely, it is often correct to deviate from legacy alignments for a few kilometers in order to better serve a secondary center, even if it requires some greenfield tunneling.

Before I go on, I will note that this plan is intended to be politically neutral, in the sense of serving the dense primary and secondary urban centers of Gush Dan regardless of ethnicity, and with only weak regard for income. In my view, if there are anti-government riots in response to police shooting of a young minority, this is not a reason to deny service to the area; on the contrary, denial of social services is what creates the social alienation that contributes to rioting. But more than this, this plan assumes everyone travels to the same destinations, a reasonable approximation in a country with the level of social integration of the US or a monolingual European country, but a problematic one in Israel.

About 18% of Israel’s population is Arab, and another 12% is ultra-Orthodox; both groups are highly segregated, and have their own job centers. On 972Mag’s Hebrew-language sister site, Noam Sheizaf reports that MK Hanin Zoabi (the Knesset’s sole Arab woman), best-known for her incendiary rhetoric against the IDF, criticized the state’s emphasis on developing fast transportation to Tel Aviv on the grounds that Arabs, especially Arab women, typically work close to home. Incomes are much lower than those of mainline Jews as well: I have no ultra-Orthodox data, but making mild assumptions on income distribution within each decile from Central Bureau of Statistics data, per capita income from work is about $6,000 per year for Arabs, a bit higher than Romania excluding Bucharest, and $16,500 for Jews, a bit higher than Greece or Southern Italy. The best American analogy I can think of is the development of dedicated buses for Chinese immigrants in New York City proper and ultra-Orthodox Jews in the New York area, as both groups are very poor and have different centers bypassing Midtown and Lower Manhattan.

With this deliberate decision to ignore ethnic composition in mind, my plan is to build an E-shaped subway system, with the E’s southern leg turning north at its western end to provide a second north-south line in Central Tel Aviv. Here is a link to the map I currently think works the best. The brown lines are an electrified commuter rail system running at very high frequency between Tel Aviv HaHagana and Exhibition Center (currently called Tel Aviv University, though the station is quite far from the center of campus). Observe that the lines deviate from the current network in a few places:

* The circumferential service running along the Eastern Line loops to serve Elad better.

* There is a new branch into Kafr Qassem, passing much closer to Rosh HaAyin’s built-up area than the current Rosh HaAyin North station does.

* The Kfar Saba branch is completely redone. There are plans to connect it to the Coastal Railway concurrently with building a freeway along the same alignment, going due west from its current terminus alongside Route 531. The freeway should be scrapped – Israel is building too many of them, and insists of bundling every transit project with a freeway (even the currently proposed Red Line is planned to come together with a freeway tunnel through an alignment near Jaffa Road in South Tel Aviv, forcing the line to go deeper and raising its costs). Moreover, the connection west of Kfar Saba should be more direct. Conversely, east of Kfar Saba there is a right-of-way that can be used to send trains up to Tira, and perhaps farther into the Triangle, into Tayibe or Qalansawe.

* There is a new branch to Glilot and Herzliya Pituah, an edge city located a bit too far from the Herzliya train station to be a comfortable walk, especially along the wide, pedestrian-hostile access road.

* The line enters Netanya along a new alignment, with a short tunnel; the current Netanya station is at the edge of the built-up area.

* There is a reactivated branch serving Tsrifin.

* The route through Rishon LeZion avoids the current plans to connect Rishonim Station (Kiryat Simha on my map, to avoid confusing with Ramat HaSharon Rishonim) to the Ashdod Branch via Route 431, avoiding the Rishon LeZion built-up area. Rishon is a sprawling suburb, but has more than 200,000 people, and secondary centers; it is better to spend a bit more money, tunneling under the center of the city and going above-ground to its west to serve the College of Management Academic Studies, Israel’s largest independent (i.e. non-university) college.

These short tunnels are in line with construction in European cities: the Paris RER’s centerpiece is the connecting tunnels in central Paris, but as seen on this map, which includes chronology, the Charles-de-Gaulle branch opened in 1976, shortly before the RER B it connects to, and the Disneyland branch opened in 1977, concurrently with the RER A. The Zurich S-Bahn includes short greenfield tunnels to access the airport from both directions. The Stockholm commuter rail system includes a tunneled loop serving Arlanda, which was built for the Arlanda Express and then extended and used by the regular commuter trains. Usually these new tunnels serve airports or other new centers such as Disneyland, since the old secondary centers already have legacy lines, but in Israel, most towns’ train stations are located at the edge of the built-up area rather than in the center, and in the larger secondary cities, this justifies some additional tunneling.

On the same principle, the Jabotinsky subway line, which is otherwise elevated outside the Tel Aviv core, tunnels to reach central Petah Tikva, in lieu of the current plan to skirt the center of the city and go in tram mode to Petah Tikva Central Bus Station.

I expect most ridership, and by far most of the cost, to come from the subway lines, colored red, green, blue, and yellow; I call them subways, but out of the system’s 60 km, 27 are above ground and only 33 are underground, mainly in Tel Aviv proper and in the parts of Ramat Gan and Givatayim that do not have wide roads for a right-of-way. I chose names for political reasons: the north-south line is called the Jaffa Line since it passes through Jaffa, a low-income left-wing Arab area; the northern leg of the E is called the Jabotinsky Line since it runs largely along streets named after Zeev Jabotinsky, founder of Revisionist (right-wing) Zionism; the central leg of the E is called HaShalom Line since it intersects the mainline at HaShalom train station, and the peace process (shalom in Hebrew) is a cornerstone of the Zionist left; and the southern leg of the E is called HaTikva Line since it passes through HaTikva, a low-income right-wing Mizrahi neighborhood. I tried to steer clear of politics in the route choice: only the choice of names, constrained by the need to refer to features of the lines, is political.

In the remainder of the post, I will deal with possible objections to the proposal, and with various doubts and drawbacks.

1. Probably the biggest objection I expect is that the system skirts the proposed Tel Aviv CBD, which is District 6 on this map. Unlike the current plan, there are no tunnels under Namir Road, but rather the tunnels are farther west, in the city’s traditional center. This is deliberate. I do not have bus traffic data, but I do have frequency data for the most frequent buses, expressed in daily departures in both directions. It is in Hebrew on the Israeli Bike-to-Bus Rider blog; the key is that a gold medal denotes at least 4 buses per hour, a bronze one denotes at least 3, a silver one denotes at least 3 and at least 4 at and on the shoulders of the peak, and a V on the left column denotes at least 6 at rush hour. The bus route numbers are on the second column from the right. See also this frequent bus map to match route numbers to streets.

While I criticized the use of bus corridors for subway planning last year, noting that buses serve the wider Jerusalem Boulevard through Jaffa and not the narrower but more centrally-located Yefet Street, the map provides a rough guide to which regions and which directions of travel have the most demand. North-south travel along Ben Yehuda, Dizengoff, and Ibn Gabirol Streets and Namir Road is very popular. Ben Yehuda’s routes 4, 104, and 204, which HaTikva Line roughly parallels, have 642 buses per day. Dizengoff’s routes 5, 39, 72, 129, 172, and 239 have 1,071. Route 9, which runs along Ben Yehuda and Dizengoff in a one-way pair, has 162. Ibn Gabirol’s routes 24, 25, 125, 126, 189, and 289 have 986. And Namir Road’s routes 1, 40, 42, 51, 60, 71, 160, 171, 240, and 271 have 1,726. Despite the large number of buses on Namir, these buses closely parallel mainline rail, and moreover, there are 65% more buses on Ibn Gabirol and points west.

2. My plan ignores many active plans made by the state. This is on purpose: until such projects as combined freeway-rail lines are built, they should be opposed, since the road construction will ensure connectivity by road will be faster than by rail, frustrating any attempt to maintain a high public transit mode share. To my understanding, the most expensive portions of the planned subway, namely the underground parts, have not been built, and on the contrary there are constant schedule and budget slips; the current timetable calls for the completion of the Red Line in 2023, and the budget has slipped from 10.7 to 14 to 17 billion shekels; this is $200 million/km, accounting for PPP but not future inflation (if Israel holds to 2% inflation, it will be about $180 million/km), for a line that’s only 43% underground.

3. Four-tracking the mainline rail route through Tel Aviv is going to be expensive, since it requires building over or rerouting the Ayalon River. In the long run, rail growth makes such construction necessary: Israel’s economic geography forces all travel between the north and the south to go through or right next to Tel Aviv, which means potential travel demand is higher than through Stockholm, which is currently four-tracking its main route through T-Centralen to provide for both additional commuter rail and intercity rail service.

In the short run, there are two ways to cut initial costs. First, it may be the case that there is room for four tracks along the Ayalon right-of-way, as long as only two are served by station platforms. If that is true, then HaShalom should be reconfigured as a local station, with two nonstop tracks, while all trains should continue to stop at Tel Aviv Center and HaHagana, both of which already have more than 4 tracks. While HaShalom is Israel’s second busiest train station (see file here, shared by a forum member back in 2008: the leftmost column is total daily entries and exits), high-frequency local commuter rail service connecting it with Tel Aviv Center and HaHagana is an acceptable substitute if it saves a lot of money.

And second, Israel Railways runs very inefficiently, partly because of single-tracking and partly because of the use of slow-accelerating diesel locomotives. Peak traffic on the two-track mainline, excluding the third track (which is run as a captive single-track commuter line), is still in the single digits of trains per hour. While my plan calls for 10-minute peak frequencies on each of 5 branches, I believe that for a long while, several branches could make do with 20 minutes; with high-capacity signaling, and the use of the third track for emergencies if a train is late, 30 trains per hour are possible, permitting space for commuter trains as well as the four hourly intercity trains to Haifa, two to Beer Sheva, and future trains to Jerusalem.

4. Too much service to the north. The way the map is presented, without extra proposed extensions, the best-served part is District 6, which has almost no residential population: counting transfer stations twice and jurisdiction-boundary stations as belonging half to each jurisdiction, it has 1.5 stations for 4,600 residents, or 1 per 3,000. But the second best is District 3, the Old North, and even Herzliya is better-served than District 8, South Tel Aviv. It’s an unfortunate fact that Herzliya’s train station is located on a pedestrian-hostile road, between the two centers of Herzliya and Herzliya Pituah and beyond walking distance to both, requiring considerable additional construction; but it’s also possible to either eliminate the Herzliya Pituah commuter rail branch or cut the Jaffa Line to KKL Junction. The Old North needs this much service, because of the high demand for bus service along both Dizengoff/Ben Yehuda and Ibn Gabirol, as well as the presence of several major retail and entertainment centers, such as the Port, the Marina and waterfront hotels, and Dizengoff Center, making the neighborhood more than just residential.

5. Not enough service to the south, especially Holon. The official plan calls for building a second line going north-south from Tel Aviv University to Holon and Rishon LeZion, giving two north-south branches to the south (including the initial one to Bat Yam) versus one in my plan. I admit that the indirect service to Holon is problematic, but counter that the city is substantially less dense than Bat Yam, and moreover the east-west orientation of the Jaffa Line connects the two cities while giving Holon a transfer to a direct mainline rail connection to Tel Aviv. Rishon LeZion is completely cut from my subway plan, but gains a centrally-located commuter rail station.

South Tel Aviv has relatively little service, too, since the Jaffa Line and HaTikva Line have stops just outside it. The alternative I proposed within the map file, in which HaShalom Line is extended two more stops to Old Jaffa while the Jaffa Line is rerouted along the more southeasterly Shalma Road alignment, provides several more South Tel Aviv stations and makes Central Bus Station the Jaffa/HaTikva transfer point, at the cost of a detour that lengthens end-to-end trips as well as about 3 km of additional tunneling. In either case, the center of South Tel Aviv today is close enough to Central Bus Station to be serviceable, even if it’s only by one line rather than two.

6. Tight timed transfers. Unlike the simply-connected lines branching to the north, the lines to the south have multiple mergers, to be dealt with using timed transfers at Lod and Lod Junction. The plan is, using a 20-minute clockface schedule, to have Airport Branch trains leave 4 minutes before mainline Lod trains, be slowed down by the airport detour and the extra stops, and have a timed transfer with the Eastern Line at Lod Junction, which then has a timed transfer at Lod. This corresponds to a 4-minute slowdown as planned, but requires two successive transfers. I do not know to what extent this is robust, although given relatively low frequency per branch, I do not think it’s a trouble on a railroad with reliable trains and level boarding. Israel’s current diesel rolling stock is unreliable, but this can be fixed with EMUs, and there’s already level boarding.

7. Station locations. I tried keeping station spacing to one per kilometer, but ended up finding more good locations, so station spacing is slightly narrower. More fundamentally, at several spots, mainly east of Ayalon, I chose station locations based on destinations rather than street intersections. The tradeoff is that the destinations can provide better waiting spots than an intersection of two wide roads built for high car speeds, and by definition have something within walking distance, but street intersections make it easier to run connecting buses.

8. Quibbles on termini. These I am happy to be convinced about, including the eastern termini of HaTikva Line (on Twitter, Moshe Schorr proposes avoiding Kiryat Ono, and instead swerving southeast to serve Or Yehuda and Yehud), the southern terminus in Ashdod (it is possible for trains to enter the city on viaducts and serve it more centrally), and extensions or cutbacks to lines already mentioned.

9. Quibbles on routes. As with the termini, I am happy to make changes. These include the route through Ramat Aviv (the current map provides a stop on the south side of the Tel Aviv University campus, but it’s possible to instead take two sharp turns and serve Ramat Aviv Mall), and the routes of HaShalom and HaTikva lines through Ramat Gan and Givatayim, which could both be moved south. There are no compelling destinations west of the eastern anchors at Bar Ilan and the Bakum/Kiryat Ono and east of the neighborhoods abutting Ayalon such as HaTikva, which makes the routes more flexible.

The first two objections are the most fundamental, and the ones I feel the most strongly I am right again. The others are smaller changes, in descending order of importance, and do not conflict with the concept of an E-shaped rapid transit system supporting a single frequent S-Bahn spine.

25 comments

  1. Nathanael

    This may be the ultimate in fantasy rail maps, as it explicitly ignores the political / demographic situation which is *guaranteed* to prevent it from being built in this fashion. I suppose there were fantasy rail maps like this for South Africa before apartheid ended.

    Nice piece of theoretical work. I’m more likely to see a light-rail system built in Ithaca, NY than you are to see this built, though.😦

    • Alon Levy

      Honestly, with all the gentrification in Ajami, the core of the Jaffa Line might be built along Yefet anyway. The Tira and Kafr Qassem branches are more speculative, sure, but there are such easy rights-of-way…

      But what I meant when I said I’m not taking demographics into account is not that, but rather the origin-destination pairs. People in Tira and Kafr Qassem do not usually work in Central Tel Aviv. Neither do people in Bnei Brak and Elad, but at least Bnei Brak exists as a Haredi center, whereas, in the Center, there’s no comparable Arab center, leading to local small-town labor markets. Jaffa is quite small, even if it’s a cultural center. In the north there’s Nazareth, but that’s not really relevant to a Tel Aviv-oriented rail system.

    • Eric

      You’re making no sense to me. If there one day is a two-state solution, why wouldn’t this be built for the Tel Aviv area? If there one day is a one-state solution, well, why wouldn’t the exact same plan be built for the Tel Aviv area? Transit planning is based on very deep demographic and economic realities, which can’t be changed much except through massive destruction or expulsion, and I hope that’s not part of your vision for the future.

      • Alon Levy

        Yes, but. The issue, to me, is not the occupation, not here; unlike Jerusalem, Tel Aviv is too far from the Green Line for this to matter. Rather, it’s completely domestic racism, including infrastructure racism. As an example, there’s a beet field sand dune station between Lehavim, a Beer Sheva suburb and one of the richest towns in the country, and Rahat, a city for evicted Bedouin squatters that has the country’s highest unemployment rate. The station is meant to serve both cities, but the parking lot is open only for Lehavim residents. Now, when I present it this way, it doesn’t sound like apartheid, but rather like the sort of suburban NIMBY racism that exists in Connecticut and Long Island today (that said, Israel’s Arab-Jewish income gap is far higher than the US’s black-white income gap). But it and worse issues, such as the program of building road bypasses around Arab towns so that Jewish drivers can avoid them in case of a riot, mean that it’s unlikely the state will want to build commuter rail to Tira and Kafr Qassem.

        Of course, since infrastructure racism exists even in lower-discrimination environments such as the US, it’s not surprising it should also affect less discriminated minorities within Israel, such as low-income mainline Jews and Mizrahi Jews: Lod Station is suffering from underinvestment and the area is quite underdeveloped, although the station is one of Gush Dan’s busiest, behind only the four Tel Aviv stations, Rehovot, Netanya, and the airport. Lod is a mixed city, but is 80% Jewish, and its Jewish population is working-class. Creating a system based on Lod as an important transfer point and featuring an additional central Lod station is a hard political sell to the current minister of transportation, possibly not much easier than branches to Tira and Kafr Qassem, and frankly Lod is more important to the system than those two branches. Israel invests a lot in putting rail tracks near low-income mainline Jewish towns, including Sderot and (on future plans) Netivot and Ofakim, all of which have become household names synonymous with (mainline Jewish) poverty and unemployment, actually providing frequent service with walkable connections to the station is something different. But that’s an entirely different rant about Yisrael Katz’s transportation priorities.

        • Eric

          “The station is meant to serve both cities, but the parking lot is open only for Lehavim residents.”

          Hmm, that sounds pretty bad. But I looked it up and it seems that a year ago the Lehavim mayor threatened to close the parking lot to non-residents (which he claims to be able to do since it’s within the Lehavim municipality) because non-residents were taking most of the parking spots, the train authority said this was illegal and wouldn’t happen, and I couldn’t find any record of a closure taking place. So I’d want to see more documentation of this.

          • Alon Levy

            An Arad-based site quotes the Lehavim mayor as saying he doesn’t care what the ministry of transportation says; I can’t find any reference to whether the parking lot was actually closed or not – the story seems to have died in January. The background is that Lehavim is trying to bully the state into expanding the parking lot at its expense.

        • Nathanael

          I was thinking of the demographics of urban Johannesburg under apartheid. The sitaution was crazy: Most of Soweto’s population commuted to work as servants in the white districts. But actually building *any* infrastructure *whatsoever* to *assist* that simply wasn’t going to happen until apartheid ended. There actually were a number of admirable fantasy maps, but absolutely nothing was buildable politically.

          • Eric

            Well, that’s the thing: If Israel were to build infrastructure that avoided Arab areas, it would get called racist. And when Israel builds infrastructure that serves Arab areas (like the Jerusalem light rail), it also gets called racist. Sometimes you just can’t win.

          • Alon Levy

            It’s not quite the same, since Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is not internationally recognized. Very few people cry racism over building infrastructure to and within Arab neighborhoods and cities within Israel’s internationally-recognized borders. Hanin Zoabi wants more investment into the Nazareth region in order to turn it into the state’s fourth proper metro area. Similarly, there is no criticism from Rahat over the fact that the city has a train station, only over Lehavim’s war on people driving in from Rahat; on the contrary, it was Bedouin politicians who insisted that the train station be named after both Rahat and Lehavim and not just after Lehavim.

  2. Shlomo

    Some comments based on my local observations. First about the commuter rail, then about the subway.

    1. I don’t know why you put so many stops on exurban freeways – three stops on route 5, three on route 6. Who wants to go there or transfer there?

    2. For Herzliya Pituah, I think improving pedestrian access is a much better idea than building a new line that would split the frequency. The whole area around the existing station will be developed in coming years, so pedestrian access can be improved at the same time.

    3. The Elad stop is unlikely to be as successful as you think, both for general reasons, and specifically because Elad is ultra-Orthodox. Elad is built on a hill while the stop would be in a valley; in addition to the horizontal distance, most riders would have to climb 50-100m from the stop to their homes, or else take a local shuttle bus of uncertain frequency. This problem is more extreme for the ultra-Orthodox, a large fraction of who travel as large families with baby carriages and often luggage. Walking and transferring are burdens for this population; for this reason, intercity routes aimed at the ultra-Orthodox currently take very convoluted routes in each city so that each passenger can board near their front door, even though this slows down everyone’s journey.

    4. Some of your plans need to take into account major future development that is likely to occur. Specifically: at Tsrifin, Einat/Kfar Sirkin, and the location of Dov Hoz Airport.

    5. There are a number of job centers outside Tel Aviv proper which are badly served in your plan for almost anyone outside Tel Aviv. A number of these form a more or less straight line: Kiryat Atidim, Kiryat Aryeh, Bar Ilan University (plus the neighboring towns Bnei Brak and Givat Shmuel which are underserved by rail), and Tel Hashomer. I would suggest adding a north-south partly-tunneled commuter rail line connecting these nodes, connecting at its south end to the intercity line along route 1. In addition to serving these job centers, the line would serve as a bypass route for the congested Ayalon corridor. Currently there are vague government plans for a rail line in the Route 4 corridor, but this route would be much more useful.

    6. From what I can see, it may be possible to cheaply add a 4th track to Ayalon by removing one car lane in one direction for a couple kilometers. (It might even be possible to keep the lane and remove the shoulder; the typical slow speeds of this traffic-choked road may not demand such safety measures.) In the very long term, it may be worth adding a 5th and 6th track to the same corridor by removing car lanes – there is no reason for such a central corridor to have through car traffic, rail will greatly increase the corridor capacity, and removing car lanes will make it nicer for rail users.

    7. Electrification of the rail network is a project well under way, and its benefits are clearly understood, though IIRC the budget proposed for it is astronomical.

    8. Why give names to the subway lines? Stick with colors or numbers, that’s simple and problem-free. (Although there is a reason why Jerusalem LRT/BRT do not include a “green line”, so I was told by someone who worked in the planning office there…)

    9. Holon is a large and dense working-class suburb; its density only appears low because the municipality includes large open areas (which may be built up densely in the future). Your current connection is very insufficient; the government’s currently planned Green Line does much better. The Holon-Bat Yam corridor is currently served by a single bus route (99) running every 20 minutes; a subway there is overkill.

    10. The connections between lines in your subway plan are insufficient. For example there is no connection between the green and blue lines – I would prefer that they cross in the Ramat Gan CBD (near your Abba Hillel station), which is Israel’s biggest office concentration in addition to allowing easy transfers between the lines. Similarly, your red line bypasses all the major train stations and only has a transfer at KKL St in the far north. You are essentially laying out the lines as a grid, but a quite incomplete grid. Somewhat curvier lines that crossed each other to create transfers would be more useful.

    11. Serving populations regardless of ethnicity is only fair, of course. But assuming that different populations have identical destinations is contrary to the facts and results in worse service for each population. In your plan, 1) an ultra-Orthodox wanting to travel from Bnei Brak to Jerusalem would need to transfer, even though this is one of the busiest destination pairs in the country; 2) Bnei Brak has no internal service, though it’s dense and has high transit usage; 3) an Arab wanting to travel from Jaffa to Kafr Qasem or Tira would need to transfer twice. The first issue is partly solved by the north-south commuter line I suggested above, the second I have not thought about, and the third issue calls for a redesign of the red line to intersect the main rail corridor further south.

    12. If you put all my suggestions together, you get the following basic plan: the region would have two north-south intercity/commuter rail corridors (an east-west intercity corridor makes no sense with Israel’s geography); while the subway corridors should be east-west to the east of Tel Aviv, and turning north or south to create a network in Tel Aviv rather than dead-ending there.

    13. Your green subway line could split into two branches in Petah Tikwa, one to the southeast neighborhoods of Petah Tikwa, the other northeast to Sgula junction and a commuter rail transfer.

    14. Your red line goes too close to the beach, cutting out a significant portion of the walkshed, particular at the Jaffa-Bat Yam boundary. I would put it under Jerusalem Blvd plus a small deviation to Wolfson Interchange (to serve the hospital and train transfers). Jerusalem Blvd also has more potential for densification (larger lots and fewer private landowners) than Yefet St.

      • Moshe Schorr

        Reinstate Elad and have the line turn to Bnei Brak as per your rail line.
        Also, your green line seems too expensive. It would better be spent elsewhere.
        Potentially, CBTC on the main line, 4 tracks = 60+ trains per hour in each direction (the Ayalon river can fit in a pipe), and instead build a N/S line through Bnei Brak to complete the grid and get rid of the Rail tunnel there.

        • Shlomo

          1. Due to the terrain issues in Elad I really can’t think of any rail alignment that would serve the residents better than buses do.
          2. You’re right about the green line, I just made the Herzliya section into a “possible extension”, and suggested that more of the remaining green line be elevated.
          3. I don’t understand the last part of your comment. 4 tracks on the Ayalon freeway is certainly needed (I wonder if the 4th track can be added by removing the shoulder from one direction of the freeway, rather than putting the entire river in a pipe – much cheaper). But even with 4 tracks, I think this route will lack capacity and redundancy. That is why I suggested the Bnei Brak rail tunnel as part of the commuter+intercity rail system.

          • Moshe Schorr

            Option 1: CTBC would allow 30 tph per track (Alon, please weigh in here). 60 tph in each direction on the central Tel Aviv spine would be enough. Minor upgrades to the rail line east of Ben Gurion would allow trains to bypass Tel Aviv from Jerusalem and Beer Sheva to Haifa.
            Option 2: Do CTBC anyway, I guess, and build the Bnei Brak east line.
            If you would do option two — then a direct line from Elad to Bnei Brak would do quite well. However, I would think that a Elevated line would offer better value better serve the trips within Bnei Brak.

          • Alon Levy

            It’s a bit dicey to add CBTC to mainline track, since all trains using it have to be equipped; the UK’s CBTC project on the West Coast Main Line was an over-budget disaster. In the rest of Europe a few S-Bahn lines hosting no trains other than captive S-Bahn trains, like the RER A, have CBTC. But Israel may be an exception since it’s so small; it may be worthwhile to do nationwide CBTC, if it allows delaying four-tracking the mainline. Without this, figure 24 tph on the Tel Aviv trunk. Of course it’s three-tracked now, but you don’t get 12 tph per direction on single track; with high frequency on the two-track main, the third track is basically there for redundancy.

          • Shlomo

            After looking at Rishon again I agree with you. The line has been changed to a much cheaper version.

          • Shlomo

            Commuters to Tel Hashomer, Bar Ilan, and the north Bnei Brak industrial area would be able to get directly to their destinations. Commuters to Atidim, Kiryat Aryeh, Petach Tikva etc. would be able to arrive with one additional short and frequent transfer. Trains on this route could originate in Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Haifa, or any other location, enabling commutes from the Israel’s “periphery” to locations other than the Ayalon corridor.

            In addition, while we might not consider charedim to be “commuters” because much of their travel is not work-related, they are heavy transit users. The two new Bnei Brak stops would put most of Bnei Brak in walking distance of a train line which could get them to other charedi concentrations in Jerusalem and Ashdod.

  3. Moshe S.

    How much would it cost to throw in a N/S subway line in the same BB tunnel? Could make sense. I would think that some more north south lines would make sense. Possibly have the HaTikva line branch on with a branch taking derech HaShalom to the north?

    • Shlomo

      My general idea was: suburban/intercity rail north-south (so that the corridors can continue for the length of the country), and subways east-west. Besides my BB line, the logical north-south corridors (Ben Gurion in Ramat Gan, Rabin in Petah Tikva) have very little bus service now, and it’s hard to justify them deserving subways. I also can’t see BB deserving 4 tracks when even Ayalon only has 4 tracks.

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