Friday, March 16, 2018
MADINAH: The SR60 billion ($16 billion) high-speed Haramain train is on track to be fully operational this year, according to Minister of Transportation and Chairman of the Saudi Railway Organization Nabil Al-Amoudi. He said that the service will be functional for the public in 2018, in conformity with all safety measures and operational readiness for high-speed transportation. Al-Amoudi said the pilot operation has been going to plan since the end of 2017: The project’s supervisors have organized regular trips in which a large number of governmental, non-governmental and charitable bodies have participated. The latest passengers were Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman, Al-Amoudi and the Chairman of the Public Transport Authority (PTA) and acting Head of the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) Rumaih bin Mohammed Al-Rumaih, onboard for a journey that left Madinah on Friday. Prince Faisal expressed his appreciation to King Salman for his support of public transport in the Kingdom, and especially for the high-speed train. The project is part of the Kingdom’s role in serving pilgrims to the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque. Prince Faisal praised the performance of the young men and women providing services in the train stations, effectively participating in the establishment phases and implementation of the service. Meanwhile, Al-Amoudi said that the support of Prince Faisal had made it easier to face challenges and encouraged the work team to build the Haramain station in Madinah and the related phases within the time frame of the project. Al-Amoudi stressed the PTA’s drive to take transport in the Kingdom to another level, guaranteeing opportunities for nationalization and thus achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. He said that the Haramain train station was proof of the Kingdom’s competence in achieving such projects. The Haramain service is one of the biggest public transport projects in the Middle East, a 450 kilometer two-way electric train linking Makkah and Madinah, with extensions to Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City. The project will transport 60 million passengers a year on 35 trains, with a seating capacity of 417 per train and traveling at a speed of 300 kph. The station is about 3 km from the Grand Mosque in Makkah, while the Madinah station is located in the Knowledge Economic City on King Abdul Aziz Road. Umrah visitors, who are expected to reach about 15 million by 2020, are eagerly waiting for the full operation of the Haramain train, which will cross the distance between the two holy cities in two hours instead of six hours by bus. The project includes four train stations in Makkah, Jeddah, King Abdullah Economic City and Madinah, in addition to a fifth station at the new King Abdul Aziz Airport.