Israel’s Transportation Ministry said it will restart service on May 24 on the country’s recently completed high-speed rail line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that  had been shut down by COVID-19.

The $2-billion, 35-mile link required construction of eight bridges and five tunnels. The trip between the two cities, now estimated at 40 minutes, is half the time of a vehicle ride.

The virus-related service halt has enabled accelerated work on an 8-mile extension to the city of Herzliya north of Tel Aviv, which is set to finish by September, and for exploratory drilling to begin on a controversial planned line extension from Ben Gurion airport to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

That project, estimated in 2017 to cost $700 million and take four years to complete, includes building two stations and a 2-mile tunnel under downtown Jerusalem. It is opposed politically by Palestinian leaders because some of its route crosses disputed territory, and by Israeli advocacy groups and some ministry officials who fear it will harm ancient sites and antiquities.