Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will officially inaugurate the Haramain Express high-speed rail line linking Makkah, Jeddah, King Abdullah Economic City and Madinah on Tuesday, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The opening of the line, which spans some 450km, comes more than six years after it was originally due to begin operations.
A consortium, comprising firms including the kingdom’s Saudi Al Shoula and Al Rosan and Spain’s Adif, Ineco, Renfe, Cobra and Copasa, reached a deal with the government in November 2016 to finalise the works having initially been awarded the $7.1bn contract in 2011. The most recent delay saw the inauguration pushed back from the start of 2018.
In recent weeks, details of ticket prices have been revealed, with seats starting from SAR20 ($5.33) and increasing to SAR250 ($66.65) depending on the class and distance travelled.
Chairman of the Public Transport Authority Rumaih bin Mohammed Al Rumaih said last week that regular trains will begin from October 4 on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, starting from the stations of Makkah Al Mukarramah, Madinah, Sulaymaniyah in Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City.
Services to Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport will begin after the associated station is opened by the end of March 2019.
A fleet of 35 trains will initially operate eight trips per day in both directions (four trips each way), increasing to 12 early next year. Each train can at speeds of up to 300kph and carry up to 417 people.
Journeys between Makkah and Jeddah will take around 21 minutes, Jeddah to King Abdulaziz Airport 14 minutes, King Abdulaziz Airport to Rabigh 36 minutes and Rabigh to Madinah 61 minutes. Travel between Makkah and Madinah will take less than two and a half hours.
Authorities said 70 per cent of the 3,000 employees that will manage operate and maintain the network are Saudi nationals.
The line is expected to reach a capacity of 60 million passengers per year when service frequency is increased from the first quarter of 2019. Later stages could see it linked to Jeddah Islamic Port and Makkah’s metro.
The kingdom is also progressing on other rail projects including the Riyadh Metro, which is scheduled to begin operations next year.
Source Credit: Gulf Business