System Integration Project: The Light Train Project

In 2018 NTA published a tender for the Railway Systems of the Red Line Light Train in Tel Aviv (Red Line Systems Tender).

The red line is the first underground Mass Transportation System in Israel. It connects 5 municipalities in the centre of Israel, starting from Petach Tikva thru Bnei Brak, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv / Jaffa and upto Bat Yam – with a total length of 24 km and 12 kms of underground of tunnels in each direction of the line.

Back in 2015, NTA has published a previous tender for all the Red Line railway systems (SDAG) which included also signalling systems and rolling stock. Only two French companies submitted price proposals, but their offers were much higher than NTA’s budget. NTA was forced to cancel the tender and decided to issue separate tenders for the rolling stock / railway supplier, for the signalling systems, for preparatory civil works of the stations, and one very large tender for all the other railway systems, including system integration of the entire Red Line.

China Railway Tunnelling Group (CRTG) together with China Railway Electrification Engineering Co. Ltd (EEB), both from the same group of CREC, won the Red Line Systems’ project, and created a JV in Israel CRTG-EEB Red Line Systems (CRTG-EEB).

The project included the Design, Supply, Installation, Commissioning and Maintenance of Communications and Security System, Control and Data Centers, Platform Screen Doors, Automatic Fare Collection, Power Supply and Catenary, Fire Safety System, Depot Works, Track Works, Tunnel and At-Grade Works, and Systems Integration. The contract will include a 10-year agreement to maintain these systems (excluding the track and civil works), with an option to extend the agreement by six years.

In order to execute this project, more than 80 engineers and close to 600 expert and workers arrived from China to Israel. The company established a managerial team with more than 60 local Israeli engineers and experts that worked as employees of CRTG-EEB.

CRTG-EEB also employed DB Engineering and Consulting Group, part of the German Railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB), as a subcontractor, to support the integration and in order to meet the very high European quality and RAMS standards of the project.

The project faced many challenges, being the first ever to be built in Israel with rolling stock vehicles driving autonomously in the tunnels, drivers for the At Grade sections of the line, meeting   Cyber Security requirements of Israeli authorities, and many other unique security requirements of Israeli authorities. During the execution, the Corona epidemic started, nevertheless the works continued 24/7, and additional workers from China were even brought to Israel via dedicated charted flights in order to expedite the works.

At peak, the project employed close to 1,500 workers and engineers per day. combining teams from Israel, Europe, China and many other countries.

In light of the requirements by the Israeli Cyber Authority, CRTG-EEB as subcontractors leading Israeli companies  such as Afcon, Bynet  (Rad Group), Tadiran, Motorola Solutions  and many more for providing communication systems, command and control systems and fire safety systems.

The management of the project on behalf of NTA was done by WSP, an international multi-disciplinary professional services consulting company as well as by  local project management companies such as Dana Engineering, YZ Engineering, IN Project, E. Spivak, etc.

The integration between all contractors was coordinated by CRTG-EEB with support of DB. International certification organizations  such as TUEV, and Bureau Veritas were involved too (as PISA / SISA), to ensure meeting all European railway standards, ahead of obtaining the Permit to Operate (PTO).

During the project, many undefined responsibilities between the different contractors affected the work progress and caused a delay in the completion of the project.

Despite all challenges, the project was successfully completed by CRTG-EEB on April 2023, and delivered to Tevel (a joint venture between Egged, Shikun Biniu and Shenzen Metro), which won the tender for operating the Red Line.

The Red Line was opened to the public in August 2023, and more than 100,000 passengers per day have been using the line daily since it opened.

CRTG-EEB is now responsible for the maintenance of all the system supplied for another 10 years.

Throughout the entire project, Comodan was involved in all aspects of the project. During the tender phase it established the partnerships with the international players (such Deutsche Bahn and Voest Alpine who supplied the tracks from Europe), with all leading Israeli partners and subcontractors,  as well as supported all preparation of the winning bid.

Upon award, Comodan supported the mobilization of all teams to Israel from China and Europe (visa, accommodation, logistics), as well as the hiring of local engineers and staff. During the design and implementation phases, Comodan supported the overall coordination of CRTG-EEB activities in Israel, the preparation and execution of agreements with all subcontractors, the project management of specific sub systems (e.g. AFC / ticketing systems), interfacing with NTA, leading government entities (ministry of transport, ministry of interior, ministry of communications, ministry of environment, etc), dealing with legal issues and claims, and settlement agreements for change orders and extension of time.

Comodan also hosted numerous high level delegations from China to visit the Red Line project during the construction pahse, as well as delegations of NTA and various project management companies to China.

And most important, Comodan helped to bridge the culture and professional gaps between the teams from China, Israel and Europe working on the project, jointly celebrating the feast days of the all different nationalities involved, and leading the project to a very successful opening of the line towards commercial operations with passengers.