The Train to Eilat- Stopping the Train of Illusions
Picture yourself boarding a train in Tel Aviv heading south. Riding through magnificent desert views, impressive craters and other unique natural and historical sites such as Ma'ale Akrabim, Ein Akrabim, Nahal Gov, Mount Zin and Ein Zin and after 2 and a half hours arriving in Eilat. That is how the new Eilat Train Project is marketed. Sounds like a dream doesn’t it? Well…more like a nightmare.
A thorough analysis of the project, one of the major infrastructure initiatives in Israeli history reveals the destructive effects of the project on one of the Land's significant natural areas and its ecosystems. The chosen train route might be the cheapest financially but has an expensive environmental price tag. Building the railway and the required infrastructure will destroy the beautiful and natural desert scenery, shattering ecological corridors and sensitive ecosystems in the Negev, and harm the quality of life for local residents.
The City of Eilat will also have to undergo fundamental changes to accommodate the extensive use of cargo shipments arriving by land. Building a new port would endanger Eilat's coral reef, a unique marine ecosystem and one of the city's most important tourist attractions.
A report ordered by Israel's Nature and Parks Authority found that the Eilat Train Project is not cost effective and a huge waste of public money. The new train line will not become a viable alternative to the Suez Canal, and according to this assessment it will take over 40 years and 2 million passengers annually for the government to recoup the investment – as well as potentially causing further diplomatic tension with Egypt. In the meantime, the NIS 40 billion earmarked for the train can instead be used towards the expansion public transportation that is much needed in Israel.
SPNI recognizes the real economic and developmental need to connect Eilat and the Negev to the rest of the country. As such, we have commissioned an independent team of Israeli economic and transportation experts to develop alternatives that are both economically and environmentally friendly.
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