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Slow train coming

by michael November 17 2008
City planningEnvironment
Nahal Yitle
Nahal Yitle: a train-free zone

We've been devoting most of our rail-related attention these past few months to the light rail (or as shiny new mayor-elect Nir Barkat likes to call it, "the blight rail"), but there is another train slowly but unsurely making its way to the Holy City: the long-awaited high-speed Israel Railways line from Tel Aviv. The line, which will replace the hideously slow and outdated current inter-city train, has been beset by constant delays, from the simply bureaucratic to the bizarrely "only-in-Israel" (how many construction projects in other countries get delayed because workers keep uncovering ancient Jewish graves?). In fact, plans hit a major snag just last week - but this is the kind of snag that Jerusalemites can celebrate:

The Council of National Parks and Nature Reserves blocked a route building plan proposed by Israel Railways in the Judean Hills Nature Reserve on Thursday.

The plan was part of the route for the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem hi-speed train.

The Council rejected a plan to build a series of bridges over the Yitle Stream and approved a Nature and Parks Authority suggestion to build a 13-km tunnel instead.

Environmental groups had claimed building and maintaining the bridges would cause serious harm to the reserve. 

The campaign against the harmful (and no doubt aesthetically horrifying) Israel Railways plan was spearheaded by those admirable nudniks at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), a group responsible for much of the green space currently surrounding the city. SPNI's other recent environmental endeavors in Jerusalem include defeating the much-loathed Safdie Plan for heavy development in the Jerusalem Hills and failing to prevent speculative drilling for the Judean Desert's 2.4 barrels of make-believe oil. Hey, you win some, you lose some.

Image of Nahal Yitle courtesy of SPNI.

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