JEDDAH (Rahnuma): Saudi Arabia’s new Haramain High-Speed Railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travelers between Makkah and Madinah.
The SR60 billion ($16 billion) mega project is the biggest railway in the Middle East and will transport 60 million passengers a year.
The train also has stops at Jeddah, King Abdul Aziz International Airport, and King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).
Rumaih Al-Rumaih, chairman of the Public Transport Authority (PTA), said the opening to passengers “marks a historical national shifting point in the Kingdom’s modern transportation industry.”
He said that the train will operate four days a week, from Thursday to Sunday. The daily trips will gradually increase to cover all days, while the time of trips will be gradually shortened to two hours for direct trips between Makkah and Madinah and two hours 20 minutes for trips between if it includes stops at the other stations.
During Hajj, the road journey between the two holy cities can take as long as 10 hours.
Al-Rumaih extended thanks to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their unlimited support and for launching.
He also thanked Makkah Governor Prince Khaled bin Faisal who played a great role in supporting the project and overcoming obstacles during the implementation phase.
The railway has a fleet of 35 trains, each one consisting of 417 seats.
With a speed of 300 km per hour, the train covers a distance of 450 kilometer.