Israel (officially the State of Israel, Medīnat Yisrā'el: יִשְׂרָאֵל,)
National Railway System
Israel Railways (Rakevet Yisra'el: רַכֶּבֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל )
The National Transit Authority (NTA) covers construction and operation of mass transit lines in Tel Aviv.
Israel has two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic. Hebrew is the primary language of the state and is spoken by the majority of the population.
New shekel (₪); symbol ILS.
Numeric 95; alpha IL.
The journey planners and related software tools can be switched between Hebrew, Arabic and English.
Information is available at the Man in Seat 61.
Actual Train Times
Not known, except that train delays are shown in the journey planner.
It is not known whether Israel Railways publish a printed timetable. Summary timetables are available in some editions of the European Rail Timetable.
https://www.rail.co.il/en/pages/updates.aspx, though updates to the English language page can be somewhat delayed compared to the Hebrew page.
- World Rail Atlas - The Middle East and Caucasus by Neil Robinson. This was published in 2006 and may now be significantly out of date.
- Thorsten Büker's Map of Israel. Not updated since 2009.
- Wikipedia Israel Railways. Existing lines are shown in black; lines under construction or advanced planning in red; lines approved in purple. The line shown in grey is an extension to Jordan.
See the Israel Railways website.
For most travellers the smart "Rav Kav Card" is the easiest way to purchase tickets; the card can be obtained from ticket offices and other locations and can be personalised (with photo) or anonymous (with no photo). The Card can then be topped up at ticket machines or using the Smartphone App. Local, zonal or full network tickets can be loaded, and these can include most public transport such as trams and buses, as well as trains.
A useful guide to the Rav Kav Card is available here
Israeli Railways Infrastructures Division
25 kV 50 Hz ac.
In the spring of 2010, the government agreed the first phase of a programme to electrify 420 km of the system. By April 2022, the following routes were being worked by electric trains:
- Hertsliya - Tel Aviv - Ben Gurion Airport - Jerusalem-Yitzhak Navon
- Hertsliya - Rosh Ha'Ayin-North - Tel Aviv - Ashkelon
- Modi'in-Center - Jerusalem-Yitzhak Navon
Rehovot to Hertsliya commenced electrified operation on 17 September 2022
1500 V DC.
- Tel Aviv Red Line - opened 18 August 2023
Rule of the road
Three Metro lines (M1 - M3) are under construction in Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv. The 24 km light rail Red Line opened on 18 August 2023. It runs from Petah Tikva and Kiryat Arye in the north east to HaKomemiyut in the south
- Jerusalem: one route operating with extensions under construction. A further two routes are under construction or planned.
- Tel Aviv: under construction.
Recent and future changes
The 24 km Tel Aviv Light Rail Red line opened on 18 August 2023.
Construction work is underway in 2022 on the following new routes:
- from the Jerusalem high speed line to Rishon-LeTsiyon Rishonim and eventually on to Rishon-LeTsiyon Moshe Dayan.
- from Rosh Ha'Ayin northwards to Hadera, mostly along the alignment of the railway that closed in the late 1960s, plus refurbishment of the existing freight-only line between Lod and Rosh Ha'Ayin.
Direct services started running between Modi'in-Center and Jerusalem-Yitzhak Navon on 31 March 2022, via a new curve off the Jerusalem high speed line.
Services over the old route between Bet Shemesh and Jerusalem-Malha ceased in early 2020 with the onset of restrictions due to Covid-19 and are believed to be unlikely to ever restart. The sparse passenger service between Be'er Sheva and Dimona ceased at about the same time. Services between Lod and Rishon-LeTsiyon Rishonim also ceased, to allow for construction work on the new line from Jerusalem.
On 29 November 2022 the Israeli National Committee for Planning and Construction voted to commence planning for a 3km extension in tunnel of the Jerusalem high-speed line to be completed by 2030. This will run from the present station to one underneath the heart of the Old City, near the Western Wall. This is controversial. It has been criticised by Jordan, which has special responsibility for overseeing the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Israel regards Jerusalem as its eternal and undivided capital, whilst the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem - occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war - as the capital of a future state.
Services on the A1 Jerusalem High Speed Line were extended to Tel Aviv HaHagana on 21 December 2019, following completion of the electrification between the airport and Tel Aviv. The line, which opened on 25 September 2018, connects Jerusalem to Tel Aviv (57 km) by means of a new line branching off the Ben Gurion Airport-Modi‘in line to an underground terminal in central Jerusalem. As at September 2018 only one of the two tracks was in use and electrified: a shuttle service operated to the airport, with passengers required to change to or from diesel services there. The existing line to Jerusalem did not close at this time but retained a local service.
The 23km Akko (Acre) to Karmi’el line opened on 20 September 2017. Design work is underway on the next phase from Karmiel to Kiryat Shmona in the far north of the country.
The 60 km Valley Line from Haifa to Beit Shee'an (close to the Jordanian border), on the course of a Hedjaz railway branch closed in 1951, opened on 4 November 2016. It might one day be extended across the River Jordan to connect to a possible new line from Irbil.
The first section of the 60 km long Ashkelon – Goral Jn (– Be'er Sheva) line, from Ashkelon to Sderot, was opened on 25 December 2013. Shderot to Netivot opened in February 2015, with the final stretch via Ofakim to Goral opened on 19 September 2015, with a grade-separated junction to the main line. Ofakim station opened on 2 January 2016. The link provides a second route from Be'er Sheva to Tel Aviv for both passenger and freight trains.
A 19 km double track line from Rishon LeTsiyon West to Bne Darom Junction, connecting with the Ashdod – Ashkelon Line, was opened in two stages: to Yavne West on 25 February 2012 and on to Bne Darom Junction on 4 August 2013. The doubling of Motzkin – Nahariya was completed in 2013, and of Tel Aviv - Kefar Sava and Lod – Na'an – Be'er Sheva in 2012. The new Tel Aviv-HaHagana - Rishon LeTsiyon West line opened on 25 September 2011.
In May 2012 the cabinet approved construction of a line from Tel Aviv to Eilat to enable freight to bypass the Suez Canal. The 350km line will be for passengers and freight and is due to shorten travel time to two hours. The route is close to being finalized, will take five years to build and be funded by the Chinese. A new port will be built near Eilat, with a double track line to Ashdod on the Mediterranean coast. The main drive for this comes from increased fears of instability in Egypt. However, information received in 2022 is that this project appears to have stalled.
Obscure and Sparse Passenger Services
Airport-style luggage security checks using X-ray machines take place at the entrance to all railway stations. Further access to the platforms is only via ticket gates.