Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz on Tuesday approved recommendations made by Israel Railways' steering committee to create a train station in the Jerusalem Jewish Quarter's Cardo, located several dozen meters from the Western Wall. He also decided to name it after US President Donald Trump, to thank him for recognizing the city as Israel's capital.
The final route of the Kotel train project, Yedioth Ahronoth has learned, will include a three-kilometer long subterranean tunnel connecting "HaUma" train station (named for former President Yitzhak Navon) with the Western Wall.
According to the plan, a tunnel will be excavated from HaUma station that will contain two underground stations, 52 meters below street level. The two stations will be "City Center" station on the intersection of the Jaffa and King George Streets and the second—the "Donald John Trump, Western Wall" station—near the Cardo in the Old City's Jewish Quarter.
The tunnel and two planned station will, in effect, serve as continuation for the forthcoming Tel Aviv-Jerusalem express train line—a trip that will purportedly take only 28 minutes—through train stations at Ben Gurion Airport, Modi'in and HaUma station near the Jerusalem International Convention Center (known as Binyanei HaUma in Hebrew—ed).
"The Kotel is the holiest place to the Jewish people, and I have decided to name the train station leading to it after US President Donald Trump, in recognition of his brave and historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital," Katz explained Tuesday.
The transportation minister termed extending the Jerusalem express train line all the way to the Wall the "most important national project in the Transportation Ministry" and instructed his ministry's people to place it at the top of their priorities list, budget- and planning-wise.
Katz also said he had already agreed with Chairman of the National Planning and Building Council Avigdor Yitzhaki that the plan—estimated to NIS 2.5 billion—will be declared a national project and speedily passed through the committee.
Since the tunnel's planned route is to pass below the Old City, however, any archeological find that may be found during excavation work may delay the project for an indeterminate amount of time while archeological digs are held in the surrounding area.
The Western Wall is the most visited site in Israel, visited annually by some 11 million people from both Israel and abroad. When the Western Wall line begins operating, it is planned to see passage of four trains an hour, or as many as six an hour during holiday peak periods.