THE $16 billion high-speed Haramain Express train is on track to roll out this year following delays, a senior Saudi official has said.
Nabeel Al Amoudi, Minister of Transportation and Chairman of the Saudi Railway Organisation, was quoted by Arab News as saying that the new train service will be ready to serve the public this year, following final safety checks and operational readiness carried out for high-speed trains.
The service is expected to carry up to 60 million passengers a year, including millions of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. Construction started in March 2009.
Using electric propulsion that will drive the trains to an operating speed of 300kph, the express train is expected to cut travel time between the cities of Makkah and Madinah to under two hours, instead of six hours by bus.
The service is also expected to help ease road traffic congestion. The Haramain high-speed rail project is a 453-kilometre-long high-speed inter-city rail transport system.
It links the cities of Madinah and Makkah via King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), as well as Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA), using 449.2km of main line and a 3.75km branch connection to KAIA.