After months of planning and development, a light rail line in central Israeli city of Petah Tikva launched its first public test drive on Thursday morning.
The particular light rail line had its first full test drive outside the city’s maintenance center ten day ago. On Thursday, however, the officials staged a public test run for the benefit of the media and the general public, who couldn't board the train but could observe.
The test drive kicked off at the intersection of Shaham Street and Jabotinsky Road, continuing through Orlov Street and ending at the Petah Tikvah Central Station.
Over the past week, NTA ‑ Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd - which oversees the design and construction of mass transit systems for the Tel Aviv metropolis - has also been conducting test drives on light rail lines in other central cities.
The test drives were accompanied by a special police task force to help residents and drivers to get used to the train.
The Petah Tikvah line is part of the greater "Red Line" route being developed in Gush Dan metropolitan area. It will go through Bnei Brak, central Tel Aviv, Jaffa and end in Bat Yam.
The line is set to become fully operational in late 2022.
The Red Line will include 34 stations, including stops at Petah Tikvah Central Station, Belinson Medical Center, Tel Aviv - Savidor Train Station, Azrieli Center and HaKirya, northern Jaffa and Jerusalem Boulevard and end in southern Bat Yam.
The Red Line is being developed in addition to two others: Green Line, which is set to open in 2027 and Purple Line, set to open in 2026. In addition, construction is currently ongoing for the subway system in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area.
Overseeing the ceremony was Transportation Minister Miri Regev, who said the light rail and metro lines will help alleviate the severe traffic congestion in the Tel Aviv area.
"In order to allow available, easy, safe and quick travel - we must convince the regular citizens to forgo their cars and take public transit, which we as a country must offer and provide," she said.
The original launch date for the Red Line was set for October of this year. However, it was postponed until October 2022 at the cost of nearly one billion shekels.