The high-speed Haramain Railway will run seven trains between Makkah and Jeddah in one hour.
The Haramain train will link the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah and Rabigh.
There will be two trains between Makkah and Madinah and four trains between Makkah and Rabigh in a day, and the railway will transport a total of 19,600 passengers in an hour. This was announced by Mohammed Al-Suwaiket, president of the Saudi Railway Organization (SRO).
He made the remarks on Wednesday while addressing a meeting on “Haramain Railway: A development project,” organized by the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Rusaifah railway station, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Al-Suwaiket said that the railway will be a pioneering project with regard to Saudization of jobs.
“There will be around 3,098 officials and employees at the railway, of which about 75 percent will be Saudis. Some of the Saudi staff, including engineers and drivers, are currently receiving training in Spain,” he said. According to Al-Suwaiket, the railway will be the first high speed electric train designed to suite the environment of the Middle East region.
The railway has a plan to transport more than 6.2 billion passengers within 12 years. There will be 35 trains and a special train for the elderly people.
Al-Suwaiket said that 86 percent of the construction work of Makkah railway station in Rusaifah has been completed at a cost of over SR3 billion. Speaking on the occasion, Maher Jamal, president of Makkah chamber, said that the railway will be instrumental in having massive facelift of Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah and Rabigh. The 450 km railway, with a speed of 300 km per hour, is estimated to cost SR37.5 billion.
Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry recently said that 80 percent of the project had been completed and that railway lines had been laid in some places.
Apart from relieving road congestion for millions of pilgrims and citizens, the rail track is expected to cut down the amount of time taken to travel between Makkah and Madinah to two hours, and between Jeddah and Makkah to half an hour.
The project includes high-speed trains fitted with the latest equipment and five ultra-modern passenger stations – one each in Makkah, Madinah and Rabigh and two in Jeddah.
The project is over two years late and was originally planned to open in 2012 after starting of construction in March 2009. As of August 2014, the Madinah - Rabigh section is scheduled for services by the end of 2015, suggesting a phased opening.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on November 20, 2014.