Home Business Deputy General Director of NTA: Light Rail may be operating this year

Deputy General Director of NTA: Light Rail may be operating this year

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Hundreds of people came to see in August 2015, when the Maariwa Bridge in Tel Aviv was blown up, marking the start of work on the Red Line, the first light rail line in the capital’s Tel Aviv. It was then promised that the Red Line would start operating in October 2021. Among those present back in 2015 was Karen Zohar, Deputy Director General of the NTA – Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd., the government organization responsible for the project.

Many eyebrows were raised when Zohar recently announced he was leaving the NTA, just eight months before the Red Line began – the start date was postponed to November 2021, and many infrastructure experts insist the Red Line will not be ready to open in time.

Zohar, a 45-year-old Civil Engineering civil engineering graduate, has spent most of his career in highway planning. In 2015, he joined the NTA just before work on the Red Line. He said: “These were not such major changes, especially in the beginning, because we were clearing the infrastructure, organizing the traffic, building the frame of the line – it was almost the same.”

Why are you leaving just before the line starts working?

“I did the job. We have completed 99% of the work at all metro stations and on the line, and there is a relatively minor finish with a budget of almost 19 billion masterpieces. There is no point in continuing to be the Deputy General Director of the project that is being completed. “

There are those who say it is a noble move, and others who say you jump off a ship that does not arrive at the port in time.

“I’m not running away. There’s no reason the Red Line didn’t open on time at the end of the year. There are many petty reasons and battles every day with almost everyone, but with the current schedule and great people there is no reason why the line won’t start business for eight months. I will come to look at this strange thing as an ordinary citizen. “

Aren’t you expected to remain in terms of responsibility as a senior project manager?

“Maybe there are those who see it that way. I’ve been in the NTA for seven and a half years, and it’s like 14 years in another company. We’ve all been through, we’ve done everything, and I’ve done almost everything that could have been done. which also started relatively well and they also know how to do it without me ”.




The Ministry of Transport should help eliminate obstacles

Contrary to what Zohar says, the audit company, designed to monitor the work, warned about the slow pace of inspections and said that at the current rate, the line will not be ready for work even after 400 months.

Why are things going so slowly?

Zohar explains: “They took a linear sampling rate of testing, but the testing rate increased exponentially. We will work three shifts a day to close the gap in what we planned six months to a year ago and we will have time in the coming months.”

What other obstacles are there to opening the line?

“We are entering a six-month period of very intensive tests and trials of 36 trains, and at the same time we need to get approval from various bodies: the Main Interior Service, the Fire Service, local authorities, and there may be problems with licensors at the station and other things on the line. There are powers with which we have ups and downs like Bnei Brak, Ramat Gan and sometimes Bat Yam. I hope that all mayors will cooperate, realizing the great importance of the operation of the line, but if not, we will need the help of the Ministry of Transport with them. “

Does the ministry support working with municipalities?

“We are talking about a good ministry with good people, but with a limited number of people and funds. The role of the ministry is not just to inspect subordinate companies, but also to help with obstacles, and this is very difficult for one person in charge of the NTA. to help with these megaprojects. One person in charge of the red, green and purple lines worth 50 billion shekels, as well as the metro, will not be able to cope alone. “

And is there political support from local authorities?

“Yes, but not always and not always successfully, because the authorities have the sovereignty to decide what they want.”

Does the Ministry of Transport not have the necessary experience and know-how to support infrastructure companies such as NTA in this project?

The Zohar will think twice before answering. “The desire is there. The ability in terms of position is there. I don’t think everyone there has to be a professional builder. They’re a regulator who looks down.”

But maybe there isn’t enough someone to get their hands dirty instead of hovering overhead?

“Yes, that is not enough. This line has cost nearly 19 billion masterpieces, similar to dozens of Netivei Israel or Netivei Ayalon projects. There are not enough staff to support her. “

Chronic Delays: “Target Date Unable”

The audit company warns of delays after the scheduled commissioning of the line in November, and if that happens, it won’t be the first time the project has been postponed. In 2019, the bill was postponed for 13 months until November 2022 after the CEO and five vice presidents resigned in protest of a demand by Chairman Ram Belnikov to give more power.

What lessons can be learned from the Red Line experience for the Metro project?

“Allow Israelis to lead, and if there is a shortage of labor, to buy them from abroad, but do not allow foreign companies to take control of tenders. The Israelis are no less good than the foreigners, and I have not seen in these companies an advantage despite greater expectations, but in the end I relied on the help of the Israelis. Foreign companies with many years of experience end up bringing mercenaries here, and the work there is not the best. ”

Even if the Red Line is launched in November, the train will not arrive on time

The red tram line will run from Bat Yam in the south through Tel Aviv to Petah Pumpkin in the northeast. According to Zohar, the journey time along the entire length of the line will take one hour three minutes. He said: “But it may take one hour 15 minutes.” And despite the promise of one train every three and a half minutes, the frequency of the line will be different. “Issues will be resolved over the next six months with the Ministry of Transport. It took several years in Jerusalem until the time matched the simulation.”

Will the line be fully open, including all stations?

“Our expectations are that yes. The station with a relatively late schedule is Carlebach, which should be fully ready by June, and everything necessary for the opening of the line should be completed before the opening.”

So, can there be any differences in the operation of the train?

“There will be a difference in reversal until we can drive a train that takes one hour and three minutes. We are talking about 50 knots with a priority of 70% traffic lights – so if someone crosses the path with a scooter train, the train will brake, so the public you also need to get used to it. Slowly we will reach balance.

“Traffic lights will be preferred by train. Ultimately, 400 people in two carriages should be preferred here, rather than a car that takes up 10 meters of road per person. ”

It is still unclear whether the railroad will initially work for free, as happened in Jerusalem. “It’s not always good to teach people free travel and then cut benefits.”

Posted by Globes, Israeli Business News – en.globes.co.il – May 4, 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.


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