Yarkon Railway (Hebrew: מסילת הירקון, romanized: Mesilat HaYarkon) is a double-track railroad following the course of Yarkon River in the central area of Israel, about 15 km in length, currently serving as the only connection between the Coastal Railway and the Eastern Railway.
The initial section of Yarkon Railway had been built in 1920–21 in response to a request from the Jewish settlers at Petah Tikva, who had desired a better transport facility for passenger and goods traffic, mainly to bring citrus fruits from the orchards around Petah Tikva for shipment via the ports of Jaffa (accessible via Lydda) or Haifa (accessible via Hadera). The branch line, splitting off the Eastern Railway at Rosh HaAyin South railway station and going westwards into Petah Tikva, was 50% financed and owned by the Petah-Tikva municipality, and always appeared separately in the accounts of Palestine Railways as "The Petah Tiqva Railway". The passenger service to Petah Tikva started in 1922. Trains going from Petah Tikva to Hadera, or vice versa, had to reverse at Rosh HaAyin.
The original Petah Tikva railway station stood on the short HaAkhim Bakhar st., close to the central bus station; from there, the railway continued along the present Mivtza Yiftah st., then along the north side of Segula Cemetery, then along HaRakevet st. in Segula Industrial Area.
After the establishment of State of Israel, it was deemed necessary to connect Tel Aviv to the rail network. For this purpose, Yarkon Railway was extended westwards into Bnei Brak, and the new station Tel Aviv North opened on 20 September 1949, with a through service to Haifa East railway station. The trains on this service still had to reverse at Rosh HaAyin. Petah Tikva railway station remained off the line between Bnei Brak and Rosh HaAyin, and consequently, this station was no longer served by passenger trains, although the freight service continued.
In the beginning of the 1950s, the Coastal Railway was extended southwards to reach Tel Aviv; thus, the significance of Tel Aviv North railway station, far at the outskirts of the city, diminished, and it had been renamed into Bnei Brak railway station. In 1953, the last section of Yarkon Railway opened to service, joining the Coastal Railway at Herzliya railway station.
After the service on the Eastern Railway was discontinued in 1969, Yarkon Railway became part of the national main line linking Haifa via Herzliya, Petah Tikva, Rosh HaAyin and Lod to Jerusalem and the south of Israel.
When Ayalon Railway opened in the 1990s as a more direct connection between the Coastal Railway and Lod, the service on Yarkon Railway ceased completely. In 1999, it was decided to reinstate the service; as a preparation for this, the old railway station in Petah Tikva and the spur line leading to it were dismantled, and the new Petah Tikva Segula railway station constructed instead. The new service between Tel Aviv and Rosh HaAyin opened on 3 June 2000. In 2003, this service was extended into Hod HaSharon; for this, a new connection between Yarkon Railway and Eastern Railway was built, which avoided the reversal at Rosh HaAyin. The old Rosh HaAyin South railway station thus remained inaccessible to the extended service, and the new Rosh HaAyin North railway station opened on 13 September 2003 at a location about 2 km north of the old one.
The newest station on Yarkon Railway, Petah Tikva Kiryat Aryeh, opened on 3 May 2008. There are future plans to build a new railway station in the vicinity of Petah Tikva central bus station, to allow a convenient passenger connection to Tel Aviv Light Rail.
Between 2003 and 2012, the entirety of Yarkon Railway had been converted to double track.
- Rothschild, Walter (April 2009), Arthur Kirby and the Last Years of Palestine Railways. 1945-1948. (PDF), retrieved 18 August 2019
- Hughes, Hugh (1981). Middle East railways. Continental Railway Circle. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
- Rothschild, Walter (28 September 2008). "The New Station of Petah Tikva – Kiryat Arie & Tickets" (PDF). HaRakevet (82): 5. Retrieved 28 August 2010.