Presentation of the Transport Sector


In Israel the road transport is the dominant sub-system, however, the rail system plays an important role in the transport mix.

Some key figures of the transport sector:

_ About 1 Billion Euro turnover per year

_ Annual investment in transport infrastructure is about 2 Billion Euro (2009-2010).

_ Investments in transport infrastructure are about 1.5% of GDP (gross domestic product)

_ More than 120,000 employees in this sector

_ The growth rate of employees is about 8 % (the GDP growth rate was about 6% from 2007 to 2008)

_ The services are provided by the private and public sector.

The interurban infrastructure is composed of:

_ Road network – 6,320 km

_ Rail network – 930 km

_ Three main ports in Ashdod, Haifa and Eilat

_ One international airport, Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.


Rail Transport


Rail transport plays an important role in the national transport mix. However, there are no railway links to neighbouring country and there is no international freight and passenger transport on rail.


Rail Passenger Transport


Rail passenger transport was about 1,950 Mio. pkm in 2008. This is about 3% of total interurban passenger transport.

The passenger rail transport was growing during the last five years at a yearly average of about 10%.


Rail freight transport


Rail freight transport was at about 1,050 Mio tkm in 2008. This represents about 5% of total land freight transport.

During the last five years the volume of freight transport was decreasing at an average of 2% per year.


Railway Network


The Israeli railway network has a total length of 930 km.

_ There are no electrified lines;

_ Standard gauge is used;

_ There are no high speed lines ;

_ 100% of railway lines are equipped with colour signalling;

_ 100% of railway lines are equipped with speed signalling;

_ 100% of railway lines are equipped with interlocking systems;

- The rolling stock is composed of:

- 80 + 16 IC3 locomotives;

- 230 coaches (passenger transport vehicles);

- 712 goods transport wagons.

There are no railways links to adjacent countries.


Investments in Interoperability and Definition of Freight Corridors (Action 12)


At present, Israel conventional railway network has no interface with the trans-European conventional rail system, therefore interoperability may not be a mandatory condition. However, Israel Railway Company designs, develops and upgrades its network and rolling stock in accordance with the European Standards set by the European Committee for Standardization. Also, the new rolling stock designs incorporate UIC standards and ERA TSI for crashworthiness, noise and emission.


Future Railway Network


The following map shows the plans for upgrading the railway infrastructure. The purple lines are new network lines which are part of the railway network development plan. Planned completion dates are from


Railway Freight Corridors


A preliminary feasibility study for a railway freight corridor between the seaport of Haifa and the Jordanian border (Haemek Railway), linking with the countries further east was carried out by the EuroMed Infrastructure Project.

The line is planned from Haifa – Afula – Optional to Jenin (Palestinian Territories) – Sheikh Hussein Station (Jordanian border); length 72 km; investment:

800 Mio. EUR; planned operation: 2015.

The study noted that establishing such a corridor would be viable.

The new development plan for upgrading the railway network to Eilat would bring an opportunity for an additional corridor between Jordan and Israel in which freight can be transferred from the southern parts of the country to the seaports at Ashdod and Haifa. However, this link needs further studies.


National Rail Company and Main Responsible Authorities in Rail Transport


The national responsible authorities are:

_ The Israel Railway Company Ltd is the national railway company. It is a government owned company. It has about 2,000 employees.

_ Israel Department for Transport (the responsible authority for the Railways Company).


Structural Reform (Action 13)


Currently the national regulations are based on the railway act of 1972.

A new rail transport law has been under preparation since 2008. It will deal with:

_ Definition of regulatory authorities and responsibilities;

_ Vertical separation of infrastructure and operation;

_ Enabling operation of private entities.


Separation of operation and infrastructure


There is one set of financial statements for Israel Railways Company. However, there are notes separating infrastructure and operation, and freight and passengers activities.

These separations commenced in 2003 when the Israel Railways Company was founded. Formerly, the railway operation was part of the Port Authority which included also the sea ports operations. 

 In the year 2025 about 7 Mio. tons and 3 Mio. passengers are expected.


National Safety Authority and Accidents Investigation


On April 2008 the Israel Ministry of Transport and Road Safety established the Department of Railway Safety Regulation. At present, two positions are being held; Manager and Engineer. According to the new law, which is currently under legislation process, the regulation department will regulate economic aspects, licensing and services, and shall be responsible to carry out independent investigations on railway accidents.

At present, railway accidents are being investigated by the railway company. In case of a fatal accident the police are being involved. The time frame for the setup is three years.




Israel is a well developed country regarding rail use and infrastructure. European/UIC standards are the basis of the existing network and future lines. However, regarding the network it is an isolated country. There are no rail links with other countries.

Regarding rail regional corridors, Israel is considering links to Jordan with an extension to the Palestinian Territories (Haemek Railway).

Rail links with Egypt and Jordan through Israel in the Eilat region could be of benefit for the whole region.

Benefits could be gained by introducing a first reliable land transport route and by avoiding a ferry connection. Furthermore, benefits for people and freight transport could be gained by linking Egypt and Israel to the planned Arab rail networks. However, these links are not a priority for Israel and Egypt.

The first phase of a structural reform according to European guidelines was commenced in 2003 by establishing a commercial company separated for railway activities. A regulatory entity was established within the Ministry of Transport and a new law, enabling newcomers in railway activities start operating in the market, was drafted and will be submitted for approval of relevant authorities.


source: Status Report onthe Implementetion of RTAP