Israel is open to Chinese companies and expects more cooperation with Chinese firms in the field of transport infrastructure, said the Israeli Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz on Tuesday.
Israel has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China and it is going very well, he told Xinhua at the scene for the test run of the Israeli first fast rail line, which links Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
In July 2012 when Katz visited China, the MoU was signed between China and Israel for the bilateral cooperation in the field of transportation infrastructure.
Katz said he has travelled on the high-speed train from Beijing to Tianjin and he was deeply impressed. Israel welcomes more Chinese companies to cooperate with Israeli partners in the sea, railways, the light rails and the sky afterwards, he added.
So far, Chinese companies have been involved in the construction of the projects such as the Tel Aviv light rail and Ashdod new port. When the Tel Aviv light rail project is put into operation, it is expected that the "Made in China" carriages will also run on the light rail.
Sources from the Ministry of Transport of Israel, the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv fast rail link via Ben Gurion airport will begin formal operation at the end of March this year. The trains will travel up to 160 km per hour and complete the 56 km journey between the two cities in 28 minutes.
Katz said about 4 to 5 million passengers are expected to take the fast trains per year at the beginning and then the number will go up, while the vehicle traffic for the roads between the cities are expected to go down by 10 percent.
The fast rail line project will cost around New Israeli Shekel 7 billion (about 2 billion U.S. dollars) when it is completed, according to reports of Israeli local media.
Reports said that only one track will be used with trains running every half an hour in each direction in the first experimental stage. When both tracks operate, there will be trains in each direction every 20 minutes in the second stage. In the future, the link will be able to operate six trains per hour in each direction at peak times.