The city of Jerusalem is to open its new light rail system tomorrow (Friday 19th August) after a long drawn out, 10-year construction period marred by delays, failures and political in-fighting. An article in The Guardian newspaper describes the tensions and problems that have caused the project to stall and restart several times over the last decade. On a visit to the city last year, I noticed the half-finished overhead line installation and no work going on. There was also a yard full of brand new but very dusty trams. I suspect this will give them trouble in the forthcoming months. Rolling stock does not like to be stored for long periods.
As for viability and costs, the city exceeds, by a long way, the minimum population density requirement of 30 per hectare for a viable metro system (see blog on Wednesday 10 August 2011) at 60 per hectare and the cost of building the system at US$12.5million a kilometre is well within international prices.
I wondered if the new system might help the peace process. Is this a hopeless hope?