Jan. 16 (UPI) -- A high-speed electric train between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv made its first test run Tuesday, carrying an Israeli official and news reporters.
The old line takes 78 minutes and was a built during the Ottoman Empire.
The test run Tuesday traveled 3.1 miles instead of the eventual 35 miles.
"We are connecting Jerusalem and connecting to the history of Jerusalem," Transportation Minister Israel Katz said to reporters. "I decided to call the fast rail line to Jerusalem King David Railways after King David, who conquered Jerusalem and turned it into the capital of Israel" -- more than 3,000 years ago.
Katz promised the line will start service on the eve of Passover, March 30, with one train per hour on one track, but eventually will increase to six trains hourly on two tracks.
After an initial three months of free travel, passengers will receive a 50 percent discount until the line is done.
The line includes a double track through five tunnels at a distance of 24 miles and eight bridges. One of the tunnels is 4.7 miles, the longest in Israel.
"I urged Israel Railways to shorten the timetable for completing the project, while maintaining maximum safety," Katz said.
The rail project, estimated to cost $1.8 billion, has been planned since 2001. In late December, Katz announced plans to extend the train line to the Old City. He also said the station nearest the Western Wall would be named after U.S. President Donald Trump, who has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and vowed to move the U.S. embassy there.