Israel and Saudi Arabia to be linked by future railway – Netanyahu

passenger train at sunrise
(Photo: Envato Elements)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a $270 million plan to link the northern city of Kiryat Shmona, close to the Lebanese borders, to the Red Sea resort of Eilat in the far south by rail, at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.اضافة اعلان

“My vision is for every Israeli citizen to be able to travel to or from the center from anywhere in the country in less than two hours,” he says. “In most cases under an hour, and even less than that," Israeli media reported.

Aside from swiftly moving people the approximately 400-kilometer distance, the line will allow the moving of goods from the Eilat port to terminals on the Mediterranean, the premier says.

He linked that project with the potential of an Israeli-Saudi normalization deal, which is expected to be part of any deal between Riyadh and Washington that is now under discussion between those two capitals, The Jerusalem Post said. 

“In the future, we will be able to transport cargoes of goods by train from Eilat to our ports in the Mediterranean Sea, and we will also be able to connect Israel by train to Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula. We are working on that too,” Netanyahu said, reviving Hejazi-line dreams.

It’s unclear where the financing for the project will come from. According to the Ynet news site, the Israeli Transportation Ministry has agreed to fund $54 million over the next two years for planning the line, which is reportedly expected to include a bullet-train segment through the Negev desert.

The announcement comes almost exactly a decade after a Netanyahu-led cabinet approved a train line linking the center of Israel to Eilat, which had been the latest in a series of such decisions that had all gotten derailed once it became time to actually build the thing.

At the time, the vaguely Chinese-funded project was pilloried as costly and environmentally harmful. It also failed to actually link the Eilat port with the one in Ashdod, Times of Israel said.

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