Haramain to start operations in 52 months – contractor

Project’s first phase to be completed ‘very soon’ says contractor

The Haramain speed rail project is expected to begin operations within the next 52 months, Al Shuala Al Kabida, the contractor behind the project, said on Sunday.

The Mecca-Madinah link will be part of a wider rail project that will link Jeddah, the two Holy Cities and Riyadh and Damman.

The 444km high-speed, intercity rail transport system will also have links to the King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh and the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

“Al Arab Company will complete the first phase of the project very soon,” said Osama Adib Salama, the company’s finance director, during an interview with the Arabic language daily, Asharq Al Awsat.

“The lay over time in each station will only be seven minutes to reduce the total duration of rides between Mecca and Medinah to two and a half hours, instead of five hours by road,” he added.

The rail link is expected to carry more than 150,000 passengers daily, during the peak seasons of Hajj and Umrah.

Set to be one of the GCC’s largest infrastructure projects, the railway link was initiated by the Saudi Rail Organisation, and will boost social and cultural connections between the Kingdom’s western cities.

“It is the first project of its kind, the train will accommodate 420 passengers per trip, and it would be the first train in Saudi Arabia to run at a speed of 300kmph,” Salama said.

He added that there would need to be amendments made to the train’s luggage system, especially for the accommodation of pilgrims’ luggage, which was very different to normal travellers.

This could mean the addition of a luggage cart or a reduction in the number of seats in passenger compartments.

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