King Salman Inaugurates high-speed Haramain Railway
Riyadh, The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz today officially inaugurated the multibillion-dollar Haramain High-Speed Railway that connects Madinah, Jeddah and Makkah.
The project marks a milestone in the development of the country's transport infrastructure. It will particularly prove beneficial during Hajj and Umrah that attract hundreds of thousands of people each years.
The Haramain Railway will serve five stations including the terminals in Makkah and Madinah. Trains leaving Makkah will stop at Jeddah's Sulaimaniya Station, King Abdulaziz Airport Station north of Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City station in Rabigh before heading for Madinah. Passengers will be able to ride in one of the 35 trains, each with a capacity for 417 passengers.
As of October 4, there will be 8 daily trips between the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah (both directions) at reduced promotional prices for two months. The trips will be on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The number will increase gradually to 12 daily trips, increasing with time and seasonal need to meet the growing need for high density access to Makkah and Madinah.
The train crosses 450km at a maximum speed of 300kpm, thus reducing the travel time between Makkah and Madinah to about 2.10 hours. Eight million people, living in the three cities and the surrounding areas, are expected to use the services, outside the peak times of Hajj and Umrah. Passengers travelling from King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) train station will be able to travel to the two holy mosques in 55 minutes.
The new station supports the advanced transport system of King Abdullah Economic City, alongside King Abdullah Port, the second largest sea port in the Kingdom. This will facilitate implementing the project of building a land bridge that would link the east and west coasts of the country, therefore KAEC to the central and eastern areas of the Kingdom.
HE Dr. Nabil bin Mohammad Al Amoudi, Saudi Minister of Transport, said: "We are here today for the inauguration of the Haramain High-Speed Railway which was a partnership with the Spanish Consortium. It's a good example of government to government transaction which has borne fruit in this beautiful station that we are gathered in today."
The Minister said recently that the Haramain train is a testament to how the Kingdom's leadership is making enormous efforts to "serve pilgrims and use all available tools to facilitate performing Hajj and Umrah and visiting holy sites in complete security."
Minister Al-Amodi was earlier this month joined by DrRumaih bin Mohammad al-Rumaih, President of the Public Transport Authority, and Dr. Bahsar al-Malek, CEO of Saudi Arabian Railways (SAR), in a pre-opening inspection of Sulaimaniya Station on Jeddah's south side. One of the key stations on the route, Sulaimaniya Station sits on an area of 461,000 sq m and includes an arrival hall, a departure hall, a VIP hall and a mosque that can accommodate 600 worshippers. The station is also home to a civil defence center, a helipad, eight train platforms and a 6,000-car parking lot for both short-term and long-term parking.
Mohammed Fallatah, Project Manager for the Saudi Railway Company and spokesman for the Haramain project, said: "We are proud that finally this project is open. We believe it will improve transportation services for the cities of Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah and make the journey faster and safer for residents as well as pilgrims.
"I am proud as a Saudi that my country will have the first high speed train technology in the Middle East. We faced a lot of challenges in terms of the environment, the desert and the high temperatures but we overcame them to succeed in this innovative and ambitious project."
The railway will also create jobs. Preliminary estimates indicate that the project will need about 3,000 personnel in engineering and administrative fields.
The public transport authority, the Saudi Railways Company (SAR), has signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation to establish Saudi Railway Polytechnic (SRP) that will generate a trained and qualified workforce.
In 2011, Saudi Arabia awarded the contract for the railway to the Al Shoula Consortium of 12 local and international firms, mostly from Spain. The contract covers the laying of 444- kilometres of track between Makkah and Madinah, the provision of 35 trains and railway line maintenance and operation for 12 years.
Source: Bahrain News Agency