RIYADH, October 19, 2017 – Saudi Arabia’s rail transport authorities have resumed tests on the Kingdom’s multi-billion-dollar Haramain High Speed Rail project that, when completed will link the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah, with three stops between the two terminals. A test on Tuesday took place on the segment connecting Makkah with the port city of Jeddah.
“The first pilot test of Al-Haramain Express train between Jeddah and Makkah was undertaken this morning following the completion of work on the line connecting the two cities in preparation for the start of official operations soon,” said the Saudi Press Agency.
The Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO) is putting the finishing touches on the massive Haramain railway, the largest transport project currently underway in the Middle East. A series of complex test runs began earlier this year, including a successful run between Jeddah and Madinah.
The electrified double rail line project is one of the largest of its kind in the world. The line runs a total of 450 km from Makkah to Madinah, with three stops between the two terminals: Jeddah, King Abdulaziz International Airport, and King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh, north of Jeddah.
Scheduled for completion by the end of this year, the railway will be able to transport up to 60 million passengers annually. The project is being handled by Al Shoula Consortium of 12 local and international firms, most of which are from Spain.
Taking part in Tuesday’s test to Makkah station were Public Transport Authority chief and SRO President Dr. Rumaih Al-Rumaih;the Chief Executive Officer of the Saudi Railway Company (SAR), Dr. Bashar Al Malik; as well as the heads of the Spanish members of the consortiums.
“The Haramain train has succeeded in reaching the Makkah station for the first time since the start of the pilot program,” said Dr Al-Rumaih. “These tests are to verify the compatibility of all components of the project and their efficiency and safety before the railway officially opens.”
SRO seeks to fulfil its role to realise Vision 2030 by “harnessing its energies to serve pilgrims and guests through the Haramain train project …” Rumaih has said in July.
According to Dr. Al Malik, “This is one of the most important infrastructure projects currently underway in the Kingdom, and it will play a prominent role in the movement of people between Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah, King Abdulaziz International Airport and King Abdullah Economic City.”
The iconic project comprises a major milestone in the development of domestic travel in the Kingdom, serving both citizens and residents and the pilgrims who visit Makkah to perform Hajj and Umrah, and also visit Madinah, the city of the Prophet Mohammed, he said . More than 2.3 million pilgrims from more than 80 countries performed the Hajj in 2017.
The Makkah station is in the Russaifeh neighborhood at the main entrance to the city, and covers an area of over 503,000 square meters. The station sits 4 km from the Grand Mosque.
The train has a top speed of 330 kilometers per hour and will have an operational speed of 300 kph. It cuts travel time from Makkah to Madinah to two hours as opposed to the five hours or so it takes by car. A total of 35 trains will be available with a capacity of 417 passengers each. Trains will be well-appointed with amenities in line with the top international transport systems.
SRO officials say the tests are designed to confirm that all the components of the high-speed network are compatible in order to ensure efficiency and safety.