The backstory on how our sustainable mobility solutions are helping Israel realize its rail electrification ambitions while solving their difficult road traffic situation.
With a growing population and increasing urbanization, Israel’s larger cities are facing a challenge well known to booming megacities across the globe: increasing road congestion and massive traffic jams that stifle urban life. According to a 2015 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report, Israel actually has some of the in the developed world.
Government officials agreed that the solution lay in extensive public transport and infrastructure reforms. But, national operator Israel State Railways (ISR) faced an uphill battle before they even began; nearly all of Israel’s commuter or intercity rail lines were configured for diesel trains. Aside from being noisier, more expensive and more polluting than electric trains, ISR’s reliance on diesel locomotives was beginning to cause problems. For example, the key line connecting the capital of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could not be used at all because a tunnel on the line lacked sufficient ventilation to safely support diesel locomotive service. That's why in 2009 the Israeli government launched an ambitious, long term plan to overhaul the nation's public transport by expanding their intercity mobility and converting to more ecofriendly electric power.
To find a way forward, ISR turned to their trusted partner Bombardier Transportation for a complete solution that answered their needs along the entire mobility value chain: sustainable vehicles, an improved passenger experience and low lifecycle costs. It started in 2015, when we inked a deal with ISR for 62 electric BOMBARDIER locomotives equipped with BOMBARDIER AC traction converters. Highly efficient, these new electric locomotives serve as the force pulling Israel’s rail modernization program forward.
But key to Bombardier’s leading status in the rail industry is not simply cutting-edge vehicles, its also cemented by our ability to understand the full scope of clients’ needs. We understood that for ISR’s electrification aspiration to truly succeed, Israel needed more than eco-friendly locomotives, they needed a completely new passenger experience that offered commuters a practical and attractive alternative to cars. Our answer came in the form of the TWINDEXX Vario double-deck coach.
By increasing capacity with an 8-car trainset, 1,065 passengers could now travel safely and comfortably with dedicated spaces for those with reduced mobility. Reliable service, based on expert engineering and a deep understanding of local needs, high adaptability, and low operating and maintenance costs, all worked together to offer a safe and comfortable ride in Israel’s heat and help keep service reliable and fares affordable.
With sustainability and passenger experience improved, the final step in modernizing Israel's rail network was ensuring reliable, cost-efficient performance. As a full solution provider, Bombardier services teams take the lead in providing the technical support required to keep ISR's new fleet on track. From final assembly to maintenance, blended teams of both Bombardier and local technicians work closely to deliver the high engineering quality standards that Bombardier Transportation is known and trusted for. Their work includes carrying out upgrades and the necessary adjustments to ensure close compatibility between network and vehicles as well as low lifecycle costs for the fleet.
This winning combination of high-capacity TWINDEXX vario wagons and the flexible, efficient and eco-friendly TRAXX AC locomotives began testing in November 2019. After 6 weeks of testing on the NAVON to Tel Aviv Ha'hagana line, Israel’s final section on their first fully-electrified line officially entered service on 2018, competing the journey between Israel’s two largest cities in just under 30 minutes.