Thursday, December 31, took place the opening ceremony of a new railway station in the town of Ofakim. Starting with the Saturday, 2 January 2016, residents will be able to use the new direct rail connection to tel Aviv. Minister of transport Yisrael Katz, who attended the ceremony, said that during the first three months of travel on the route Ofakim to tel Aviv Yafo will be free. This will allow the residents to get acquainted with a new route and get used to it.
The press service of the Ministry of transport notes that Israel recently a new tradition: in order to attract public transport users, passengers using the new railway stations located on the periphery, receive the benefit of free travel within the first three months and in the next two years — a discount of 50%.
«The new railway line and new station «Train the Negev,» a significant event. The station provides transport links all over the South with the center of the country. About this project spoke even before I became Minister of transport, about 7 years ago. Many spoke of the unprofitable project, but I thought otherwise, and supported by the government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu, it was decided to advance this project. I am pleased that the region flourishes that are being built here, develop infrastructure and trade,» said Minister Yisrael Katz.
Ofakim station is part of the railway branch of the Ashkelon-be’er Sheva, also passing through the Sderot and Netivot (the so-called «Train of the Negev»). The new connection will significantly reduce travel time in many points of the country. So, the journey from station to station Ofakim be’er Sheva — University is only 15 minutes, Ofakim, Ashkelon – half hour.
At the ceremony, Minister Yisrael Katz also spoke about the joint initiative of the Ministry of transport, municipality of the city of Ofakim and Management of Railways of Israel for the construction of student hostels near the train station in Ofakim. Housing will be rented to students at affordable prices. This will help bring the city’s new residents. The municipality also plans of the city near the station to build a new residential area designed for young families.
The cost of construction of Ofakim station was about 50 million shekels. Next to it there is Parking for 400 Parking spaces, built underpass, an access road, dedicated Cycling and walking path.
Every day on the route Ashkelon-beer-Sheva will run 25 trains in each direction. The project laid a railway track length of 60 km between Ashkelon and be’er Sheva. Work included the construction of fifteen rail and four road bridges, four multilevel interchanges and other engineering structures. The total cost of the project is about 2.2 billion shekels.