Daily Israel Report

Video: Take a Ride on Jerusalem’s Light Rail

Thousands of Israelis are jumping aboard Jerusalem’s long-delayed and costly new light rail system. It is free – for the time being.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/21/2011, 10:58 AM

Thousands of Israelis are jumping aboard Jerusalem’s long-delayed and costly new light rail system. It is free – for the time being.

Elchanan Berkovitz, who wrote a song for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, filmed Jerusalem as seen from the eye of the camera on the train.

The $1.4 billion light rail system was supposed to cost a lot less and was to be up and running in 2000, but its completion was delayed by a host of problems, among them poor planning and the discovery of archaeological sites.

The 6.5 kilometer (five-mile) route runs from Mount Herzl through the heart of the city and alongside Arab neighborhoods to Pisgat Ze’ev, located in northern Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority unsuccessfully tried to convince foreign suppliers of the train to boycott Israel because Pisgat Ze’ev is part of the united capital where the PA claims sovereignty for its hoped-for state.

Arabs, as well as secular and Orthodox Jews, flocked to try out the new system Friday and Sunday as it begins its first trial run that is open to the public and free of charge.

It was the first time residents of Jerusalem could find reason to be happy with the system after years of infrastructure work closed off streets and made hundreds of businesses and stores, many of whom went from losing large percentages of sales to outright bankruptcy, inaccessible except by foot.

Many residents called the light rail system the  ”cursed train,” a Hebrew pun on the words for “curse” (klala) and “light” (kala).