Light rail trams touted as ‘explosion-proof’ and as impregnable as armored vehicles have rolled off assembly lines at China’s state-owned rolling stock manufacturer CRRC. These trams are bound for Israel with officials aiming to open the first line of a light rail system in Tel Aviv in 2021.

The Israeli city, faced with a persistent threat of terrorist attacks, invited bidders to design and make trams with reinforced passenger compartments and bullet and debris-proof windows that can withstand explosions in the event of an attack.

Xinhua reported that a CRRC subsidiary in Changchun, capital of Jilin province in the northeast, won the contract in 2015 for 90 purpose-built light rail trams that are arguably the safest available. The Chinese firm will also provide maintenance for 16 years.

The interior of the new trams. Photos: People’s Daily, Xinhua

Lightweight materials including carbon fiber and aluminum composite boards were used extensively on the train, whose underframe structure is made of non-ferromagnetic material that can prevent magnetic bombs from being attached to it. Windows are also equipped with explosion-proof glass that can withstand the impact of stones and burning bottles.

In terms of fire resistance, the underframe structure will remain intact within 15 minutes of combustion thanks to the use of flame-resistant materials, giving passengers enough time to evacuate in case of an emergency.

Inside the train, the door to the driver’s cabin is designed in accordance with Israel’s anti-intrusion specifications that are comparable with aviation standards.

The first 23-kilometer-long tram line in Tel Aviv is scheduled to go into operation in two years time.