Jerusalem’s Light Rail – The Red Line Expansion


The Red Line of the Jerusalem Light Rail is, by most counts, a success. Research by the Jerusalem Transport Master Plan (JTMT) demonstrates that not only has the light rail been a boon for the downtown area, but that it is also slowly changing how residents approach transportation throughout the city.

Just two years after beginning operation in 2011, the number of daily passengers on the Red Line grew from an average of 100,000 to 140,000. Today more than 150,000 passengers use the train daily and an impressive 15% of riders report that they no longer use their private vehicles. This result is considered high.

Additionally, air quality in the area has been so vastly improved that carbon monoxide emissions have dropped from 500 parts per million to fewer than 100 parts per million. Astoundingly, pollution fell to such negligible levels that monitoring was deemed unnecessary.

This is good news for pedestrians, whose numbers increased by 11% between 2011 and 2012 and for the businesses that are now thriving due to increased foot traffic. Expansion of the light rail, and specifically of the Red Line, is not only logical, it’s natural.

Work on the extension is already visible on the roads leading up to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem and the planned final terminal station is being built alongside a new inpatient building. The rail will be integrated along the narrow route through new infrastructure when necessary (video below).

The Red Line is also being extended to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem at Mount Scopus and Givat Ram, linking the two branches through a campus line. A bridge above the Begin Highway will facilitate the connection.

Construction is expected to last for nearly five years and is being funded as part of a government budget of 25 billion shekels set aside for the Jerusalem Light Rail network, which includes the Blue and Green lines.

Jerusalem’s Light Rail – The Red Line Expansion

The Jerusalem Business District

The City Entrance Project represents the largest and most ambitious urban renewal plan in the history of Jerusalem. With a proposed 13 skyscrapers,  numerous hotels, and an expansion of the largest convention center in the Middle East, the hub will not only transform the urban fabric of area, it will change the standing of Jerusalem within Israel and throughout the world.

While the municipality has offered vague glimpses into the basics of the undertaking, specific details have been kept a mystery. In an ongoing effort to shed a light on every detail of the project, Jerusalem Construction News presents…


“What was once a dream has been turned into a building plan and today is changing into a reality on the ground.” -Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem


The Chords Bridge

Courtesy: Israel GPO
Courtesy: Israel GPO

Inaugurated in 2008, Santiago Calatrava’s Chords Bridge can be viewed as the first component of the business district. Standing as a stark representation of the bold plans that lie ahead, the bridge serves as a crossing for pedestrians and the red line of the Jerusalem light rail.

Transportation Hub

HaUma Railway Station

Binyanei HaUma Train Station

The nearly completed HaUma Railway Station will be the heart of the business district. Once opened in 2018, it will serve as a hub for a high-speed rail line that will transport passengers to and from Tel Aviv in 28 minutes.

The Light Rail

Jerusalem City Entrance Plan 2

In addition to the heavy rail, two light rail lines will reach the district. The red line, which currently runs from Mount Herzl to Cheil HaAvir and the upcoming green line, which will run from Gilo to Mount Scopus.

Sderot Shazar Underground Parking Facility

The Sderot Shazar underground parking facility will serve commuters using the high-speed rail to Tel Aviv, offering a capacity of 1,300 cars and a connection to the HaUma Railway Station.

Pedestrian Plaza

topotek 1 jerusalem 1

topotek 1 jerusalem 2

After hosting a design contest, the Jerusalem Municipality selected German firm TOPOTEK 1 to create the pedestrian space between the Binyanei HaUma Convention Center and the HaUma Railway Station. The plan carries a message of unity through a space that offers an abundance of trees and seating areas, as well as ample walking and biking zones.

High-Rises and Towers

Through the addition of 800,000 square meters of commercial space, the municipality is hoping to bring in hundreds of new businesses and create thousands of jobs. The buildings will range in height from 24-33 stories.

Mitcham Binyanei HaUma

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Designed by Farhi-Zafrir Architects, Mitcham Binyanei HaUma will feature 2,000 hotel rooms, a 330,000 square meter convention center, and a commercial area.

Mitcham HaRechev

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Situated across from Mitcham Binyanei HaUma and beside the HaUma Railway Station, Mitcham HaRechev – also the work of Farhi-Zafrir Architects – will comprise of two mixed-use towers which will include 96,000 square meters of office, hotel, and commercial space.

Jerusalem District Government Complex

Jerusalem District Government Complex 1

The two 24-storey towers of the Jerusalem District Government Complex will concentrate many of the government ministry offices currently spread throughout Jerusalem into a 53,000 square meter office space atop a ground-level shopping area.


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Designed by Studio PEZ, in collaboration with Zarhy Architects, the 40,000 square meter Jerusalem District Courthouse will house all court facilities outside the purview of the nearby Supreme Court.


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The Jerusalem Business District

Jerusalem District Government Complex

Jerusalem District Government Complex 1
Render Not Final

Danya Cebus Ltd. has won a tender for the planning and construction of the Jerusalem District Government Complex. The compound will concentrate many of the government ministry offices currently spread throughout Jerusalem (full list here).

A design by Kolker Kolker Epstein envisions two 24-storey towers on the ten dunam plot on Nordau Street. An astounding 53,000 square meters of office space will sit atop a ground-level shopping area. A multi-storey underground parking lot will accommodate up to 416 vehicles and an additional 27,000 square meters of reinforced underground storage space will enable government offices to continue operating safely during emergencies.

Jerusalem District Government Complex 2

The buildings are part of the City Entrance Project, which is set to transform the area into a major business district and redefine Jerusalem as a local and global commercial force.

The build-operate-transfer project will be maintained by parent company AFI Group for 22 years. Construction is expected to take 3.5 years to complete.

Jerusalem District Government Complex

Sderot Shazar Underground Parking Facility

Sderot Shazar

With plans finalized and a budget set, excavation work on the massive underground parking facility beneath Sderot Shazar will begin this Sunday, August 7th. The five-storey lot will serve commuters using the high-speed rail to Tel Aviv, offering a capacity of 1,300 cars and a connection to the HaUma Railway Station.

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Once completed, through traffic will be diverted to a new tunnel running below Sderot Shazar and local light rail, bus, car, and bike traffic will remain above ground. The street will be more pedestrian friendly, allowing people on foot to easily and safely cross sides – something currently achieved through an underground tunnel.

To avoid major transportation delays, the first few weeks of construction will be nonstop. Traffic will be rerouted and bus stations in the area between the Central Bus Station and the International Convention Center will be moved near the Chords Bridge.

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With a budget of approximately 350 million shekels, the project, led by Moriah, will lay essential infrastructural groundwork for future components of the City Entrance Project.

Work is scheduled to be completed in 2020.

Sderot Shazar Underground Parking Facility