Daily Israel Report

High-Speed Be’er Sheva Train Opens Negev

A new high-speed Be’er Sheva-Tel Aviv rail link shortens the ride to 55 minutes and opens up the Negev. An end to Bedouin domination?
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 7/17/2012, 10:04 AM

Israeli Railways on track
Israeli Railways on track
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A new high-speed Be’er Sheva-Tel Aviv rail link shortens the ride to 55 minutes and opens up the Negev and will help attract Jews to the area that is rapidly becoming overrun by Bedouin.

The new rail link, dedicated on Monday, cuts the ride from the former 90 minutes, and Israel Railways hopes to shorten the ride to and from Tel Aviv to 45 minutes. For the first time ever, train service will be provided 24 hours a day. Workers built 19 bridges and road-rail separations to allow a second track to be laid between the two cities.

The Negev also will get a boost in two years with the extensions of the north-south high-speed Highway 6 (Kvish 6), which now reaches south of Kiryat Gat. Tenders have been published for construction of the highway to the Be’er Sheva suburb of Lehavim, and plans call for it run past Be’er Sheva in three years.

The IDF has built a huge base in the Central Negev, and Transport Ministry officials are considering using an Air Force base near Be’er Sheva as an alternative international airport to the Ben Gurion facility.

Opening up the Negev to development is a national priority. Government polices of allowing polygamy among Bedouin and ignoring their takeover of tens of thousands of acres of government land have encouraged a population explosion. Bedouin comprise more than 40 percent of the Negev population and are moving into the cities of Arad and Be’er Sheva, where African illegal aliens also increased the population in recent years, and where gentile Russian immigrants have swelled the numbers for years.

“The upgrade of the line brings the periphery closer to the center of the country, and broadens the employment and residential opportunities for residents of the Negev and the south. The new line will raise real estate values in communities along the route,” Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz said at the opening ceremony for the new rail line.

“This is a revolution that we have always dreamed about…. I remind you that this takes much longer than most U.S. and European cities, from the large cities – to go from the city center to the outskirts, than it takes today to go from central Tel Aviv to Kiryat Gat, and even to Be'er Sheva,” he added.