Israel commissions Kishon Port Rail Link at the eastern end of Haifa Port

ISRAEL: A rail connection to the Kishon area at the eastern end of Haifa Port of Israel was inaugurated on August 17, enabling freight trains to run directly to destinations across the Israel Railway network.

The 2km link was built in around a year as part of a programme of co-operation between the port authority and the national railway. This has included the extension of tracks to accommodate container trains.

‘It is not a huge infrastructure project, but its contribution will be of significant economic value’, said Haifa Port Co Deputy General Manager, Operations, David Cohen at the inauguration ceremony.

One of the first uses for the new link will be the delivery of Bombardier Transportation Traxx electric locomotives and double-deck push-pull coaches, the first of which are scheduled to arrive from Germany shortly.

Speaking at the inauguration of the link, ISR General Manager Shahar Ayalon said transport was a ‘national challenge’ which required co-operation between different organisations. He said ISR’s rail freight activities now generated US$110m a year, and the company’s vision was to be able to offer ‘a door-to-door service from the port to factories and back’.

‘Co-operation between the port and the railways is constantly accelerating’, added ISR Deputy General Manager, Freight, Uri Sharir. ‘The results can be seen all over Israel in siding extensions as well as in the increased number of freight trains.’

Port of Haifa

The Port of Haifa (Hebrew: נמל חיפה‎‎) is the largest of Israel’s three major international seaports, which include the Port of Ashdod, and the Port of Eilat. It has a natural deep water harbor which operates all year long, and serves both passenger and merchant ships. It is one of the largest ports in the eastern Mediterranean in terms of freight volume and handles about 26 million tons of cargo a year. The port employs over 1,000 people, with the number rising to 5,000 when cruise ships dock in Haifa. The Port of Haifa lies to the north of Haifa’s downtown quarter on the Mediterranean, and stretches to some 3 kilometers along the city’s central shore with activities ranging from military, industrial and commercial next to a nowadays-smaller passenger cruising facility.

Facilities:

The Port of Haifa contains many cargo terminals, and is capable of servicing many ships at once. A railroad freight terminal is inside the port and is used for transporting goods across the country. The port also features a passenger terminal, fishing wharf, yacht club, sports marina, and chemical terminal. In 2013, the port processed about 26 million tons of cargo including 1.36 million TEUs, as well as 253,524 passengers. The port opened the first phase in the “Carmel Port” expansion program in 2010 that involved the construction of a new cargo terminal which includes a 700m long wharf capable of handling 9,200 TEU container ships (of up to 15.5 metres (51 ft) draft) as well as the opening of a secondary 250 metres (820 ft) wharf plus adjacent support and storage areas. The new facilities will expand the port’s annual container handling capacity by 500,000 TEU. Construction of this new terminal cost NIS1.8 billion (appx. US$500 million) and took five years to complete.

The Port maintains facilities for the United States Sixth Fleet.

On 4 January 2013, the MSC Chicago docked at the port’s Carmel terminal, making it the largest container ship ever to visit Haifa. MSC Chicago has a capacity of 9,200 containers. The previous record ship visit was the MSC Maeva (capacity of 8040 containers) which had visited two months before.

Israel Shipyards is nearby the port and provides heavy ship repair facilities. The company also operates a private port on its premises which in 2013 handled approximately 1.7 million tons of cargo.

Passenger Terminal

The port contains a modern passenger terminal serving cruise and ferry passengers. The terminal offers a waiting area, duty-free shop, souvenir shop, cafeteria, VAT reimbursement counter, currency exchange, free wireless internet, parking, as well as other services to travelers.

The area near the terminal also offers excellent public transit connections for passengers. The Haifa Center Railway Station is adjacent to the terminal and is served by nearly 200 passenger trains 24 hours a day on weekdays to the Haifa region and beyond. Additional public transit connections are available by bus or taxi at the railway station or on Ha’Azmaut Road, the main thoroughfare in downtown Haifa which is located in front of the station. The Carmelit’s Kikar Paris subway station is also within walking distance and allows convenient access to the top of Mount Carmel.

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