The high-speed express train line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv was inaugurated Wednesday, 11 years after it was due to open and at more than twice the original cost.
The train will take 28 minutes to travel from Jerusalem's Yitzhak Navon station to Tel Aviv's HaHagana station and will open to the public on Saturday evening. The line will operate weekdays until 9:30pm.
"This is a celebration," said Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich. "We live in a complicated reality and on days such as this we can be proud."
He said that Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are now physically and symbolically connected.
Smotrich invited his predecessor, Foreign Minister Israel Katz, to the event and paid tribute to his determination to make the line a reality.
"This project would not have come to pass without your vision and determination," he told Katz. "Your ability to envision this moment and not back down despite all the difficulties and criticism is admirable," he added.
The minister said that while he had the honor of inaugurating the much-needed line, he could not take any of the credit. That, he said, belonged to Katz and the employees of Israel Railways.
Katz in turn complimented Smotrich for his work: "Your courageous decision moved this project to the next level… we are building the State of Israel," he said.
Katz said he decided to name the line the King David Line because it connects the capital, traditionally the seat of the second king of biblical Israel, to the rest of the country.
"I have been criticized over my efforts, but I am proud of the choices I made," Katz said.
"If I had backed down in the face of criticism, we would not have this train line today."
The new train line is 57 kilometers long and runs over nine bridges and through five tunnels.
The line cost NIS 7 billion, double the initial cost, and includes the construction of a new station in Jerusalem.
The new station is situated 80 meters underground, making it one of the five deepest stations in the world and can also be used as a nuclear bomb shelter.