The work on the Red Line light rail train which is due to connect the cities of Tel Aviv, Bat Yam, Bnei Brak, Petah Tikva, and Ramat Gan has taken a giant leap forward with the introduction of the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) which will be used to dig the train tunnels 90 feet under the surface.
The TBM itself is a monster of a machine. At 300 feet long, 800 tons, and 22.5 feet wide, it's able to not only dig 75 feet of tunnel a day, but also lay down the concrete to reinforce and build the tunnel. It's crewed by 25 people, and has everything from bathrooms, a dining room, and an observation deck.
One of the TBMs is already in Israel, while another one is on its way from Germany
Four TBMs are expected to begin digging within the next year, with two working from east to west, and two working from west to east.
Additionally, dozens of Chinese construction workers have been working on the line over the past year.
"I welcome the work being done by both the Israeli workers and our Chinese brothers," said Minister Katz.
The project embodies the strength and determination of our projects. It an integration of our need for a light rail in the Tel Aviv area, and working with the best people as a result of free and open competition."
The minister noted that Israelis were worried that foreign companies would come in and leave the Israelis out of a job, but that the project is bringing in work for a multitude of people.
"Several Israeli companies were worried, but what we see here is that there is in fact a lot of cooperation with Israeli companies. The project involves thousands of people. By the end of the project, the light rail is expected to serve 70,000 people – something which will enable people to drive less in private vehicles, and use more public transportation.
Preparing the ground for the green and purple lines
Meanwhile, it was announced that construction on the green line between Herzliya and Rishon LeZion, and the purple line between Tel Aviv and the Tel HaShomer area is set to begin in 2018.
The Green Line - the second line to be built in the Gush Dan area - will be 26 miles long, going from Herzliya in the north to Rishon LeZion and Holon in the south, passing through the center of Tel Aviv.
The Purple Line meanwhile will include 44 different stops, and travel for 11 miles. Construction on this line is expected to last until 2021. It will begin next to the Savidor Mercaz train station in Tel Aviv, continue south and east to Givatayim and Ramat Gan – passing through Sheba Medical Center, Bar Ilan University, and finally ending in Kiryat Ono and Or Yehuda.