Israel could have a nationwide railway network by 2020 worth an estimated NIS40bn, according to the nation’s transport minister.

The proposed project “Israel Routes” is in its formation stage.

Israel Minister for Transport Israel Katz said he expects cabinet approval as a part of economic arrangements bill in 2009–10.

The project includes railway lines to Eilat in the south and Kiryat Shmona in the north.

The other lines include the Jezreel Valley line, Acre-Carmiel, the eastern line along Road 6 (the Cross-Israel Highway), and a fourth track along the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv.

Katz said private contractors will be called in for the role, but Israel will operate the lines once construction is complete.

“The private sector is showing great interest in the railway plan,” Katz said.

Obstacles will still have to be overcome, however, including securing finance from contractors for the project, according to Katz.