Sun Jan 15th, 2012 at 11:07:32 AM EST
The Jerusalem Light Rail, Israel's first light rail system, started full operation a month or two ago.
Construction started in 2002; besides the usual corruption etc, there were additional delays due to BDS (a lot of the line is in the occupied territories) and an Ultra-Orthodox mayor who had other funding priorities (and there were suggestions that some opposition was due to the possibility that the train would replace some existing segregated bus lines).
After testing, including testing what happens when the train collides with a car (it seems that drivers were ignoring the red lights as they knew the train wasn't running....) full service started last month. They have already had a few minor incidents of
terrorism Palestinian kids putting their feet on the seats. Incidentally, the European-style honor system for ticketing doesn't work so well in a Middle Eastern country. This is partly their own fault, for making the system so confusing: transfers are free from the train to buses but not vice versa (probably because the buses don't issue electronic tickets yet), and tickets are valid only on the day bought, but still have to be validated on the train (I can't see any reason for this). So they have inspectors checking tickets every time, but you are allowed one warning before you get a ticket. But I saw people arguing and refusing to show an ID card (for registering the warning) and being simply told to get off at the next stop.
Here is the start of the line, at Mt. Herzl, named after the founder of Zionism (the signs on the trains themselves call it Mt. Hertzel, after the car rental company).
The Calatrava bridge, spanning the main entrance to Jerusalem from the Israeli side.
The Davidka (Hebrew: דוידקה, "Little David") was a homemade Israeli mortar used in Safed and Jerusalem during the early stages of the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. Its bombs were reported to be extremely loud, but very inaccurate and otherwise of little value beyond terrifying opponents; they proved particularly useful in scaring away Arab forces.
Sounds a bit like an early version of the Quassam.
Jaffa St. This street used to have some of the worst traffic jams in the city. The problem has been solved in the usual way, by banning cars:
Crossing into East Jerusalem.
We are now at the Damascus Gate station on the following map (why does English Wikipedia have a German map?)
The route from here on will make implementing the imaginary maps discussed recently in heathlander's diary rather difficult. But dividing the city according to the pre-1967 lines would be trivial, with each half getting a separate rail line.
Main bus station in the Palestinian side
Branch to the rail yards
Palestinian village of Shu'afat
Settlement of Pisat Ze'ev: Final stop, called, in Hebrew, "Air Force".
The "Heil" spelling is already there in the English, not just in the German map and doesn't correspond to the Hebrew spelling. The signs on the trains themselves are better.
Incidentally, whoever is responsible for the recorded announcements in the trains should have talked to whoever was responsible for naming the stations. Whenever there are two reasonable ways for describing the location, you can count on them to differ....