MADINAH – The awaited high-speed Haramain train is expected to be fully operational this year, as announced by Nabil Al-Amoudi, the Saudi Minister of Transportation, and the Chairman of the Saudi Railway Organization.
“The pilot operation has been going to plan since the end of 2017. Now, this $16 billion-service will be functional for the public in 2018,” the minister said, Salaam Gateway reported.
The Haramain train is one of the biggest public transport projects in the Middle East, a 450-kilometer dual electric train linking Islam’s holiest cities Makkah and Madinah, in addition to extensions to Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh.
The project includes four train stations in Makkah, Jeddah, King Abdullah Economic City, and Madinah, in addition to a fifth station at the new King Abdul Aziz Airport of Jeddah.
The railway will transport 60 million passengers a year on 35 trains, with a seating capacity of 417 per train and traveling at a speed of 300 km per hour.
The line’s southern station is about 3 km from the Grand Mosque in Makkah, while the northern stations are located in the Knowledge Economic City on King Abdul Aziz Road, and Madinah.
Pilgrims, who are expected to reach about 15 million by 2020’s Umrahs and Hajj, are eagerly waiting for the full operation of the Haramain train, which will decrease the time of the travel between the two holy cities to two hours instead of six hours by bus.
The project is delayed from its originally planned date in 2012. In November 2016, it was rescheduled to be open in 2018 with partial operations in December 2017.