Call it a boring story: a huge Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) brought to Israel especially from abroad began boring a tunnel Monday, west of Jerusalem.
The TBM has begun digging a 3.6 km. tunnel (Tunnel 1) from Latrun to Shaar Hagay. Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz noted that two additional TBMs would soon begin to dig two more tunnels (Tunnels 2 and 3), between Nahal Yitleh and Nahal Luz near Mevaseret Tzion.
Tunnels 2 and 3 will each be 11.5 km. long, qualifying as Israel's longest tunnels.
Each TBM weighs about 1,800 tons, is about 100 meters long and 10 meters in diameter. It rides a specially fitted rail and advances at a rate of about 20 meters per day and operates 24 hours a day. Each TBM costs roughly NIS 100 million.
About 430 workers accompany the TBM's operation. These include around 200 subcontractors, 200 workers, 20 engineers and 10 measurers. The project will utilize 150,000 cubic meters of concrete and 12,000 tons of iron.
Minister Katz said that the fast Jerusalem-Tel Aviv rail project will cost an estimated NIS 7 billion. The train will pass through Ben Gurion Airport and Modiin and reach Jerusalem near Binyanei Hauma. A trip from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will take 28 minutes.
The first train will leave the station in 2017. In the first year of operation, three trains will go from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem every hour, and three will go in the opposite direction.
As it approaches Jerusalem, the train will be 80 meters under ground level. Passengers will use elevators and escalators to ascend to the ground level at Binyanei Hauma.