MAKKAH – Gearing up for the annual hajj season, Saudi officials are putting final touches on the Al-Haramain Train project, set to be launched in mid-August to accommodate the pilgrims visiting the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
“The US$16 billion high-speed Haramain train is on track to be fully operational this year,” Minister of Transportation and Chairman of the Saudi Railway Organization, Nabil Al-Amoudi announced, UrduPoint reported on August 6.
“Its service will be functional for the public in conformity with all safety measures and operational readiness for high-speed transportation,” he added.
The project is a crucial need for the increasing number of pilgrims, visitors, residents, and worshipers coming to the Islam’s two most sacred cities of Makkah and Madinah.
Hosting millions of pilgrims and locals has become increasingly challenging for the Saudi authorities in the recent years, dealing with huge traffic, pollution, and consequent administrative issues.
Al-Haramain train is planned to reduce the congestion on the roads between the two holy cities, in addition to Jeddah. It will also reduce road traffic accidents and pollution levels, resulting from vehicle emissions.
According to Al-Amoudi, “seven trains will run within one hour from Makkah to Jeddah, two trains will run between Makkah and Madinah, and four trains will run between Makkah and Rabigh. A single train will transport as much as 19,600 passengers per hour.”
The railway consists of 450km-long electric tracks between Makkah in the north and Madinah in the south, passing through Jeddah. The project, which is near completion, was executed in two important phases.
First, infrastructure has been developed, including construction of 140 overpasses, bridges, underpasses, 860 water channels and the five stations; Makkah, Jeddah, King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Dabiagh and Madinah.
Then, tracks, railways and 35 electric trains with a capacity of 417 seats per cart and a speed of 300km/h have been built.
Regarding time, the railway will shorten the travel time between Jeddah and Makkah to about 21 minutes via its 78-km double-track line, and less than two-and-a-half hours between Makkah and Madinah.
According to the official estimates, around two million Muslim pilgrims will perform Hajj this year. This pilgrimage event is an annual Islamic ritual that is considered as one of the Five Pillars of Islam.