Saudi Arabia opens high-speed train between Mecca and Medina

- A Monitor Report 1 Oct, 2018  |    -      +
Jeddah : High-speed train from Mecca to Medina has unveiled its £6 billion (US$7.87 billion) high-speed rail service that will run between Mecca and Medina.

Mecca is the site of an annual pilgrimage for millions of Muslims as part of a sacred journey known as Hajj. The 280-mile (450-kilometer) railway will slash travel time between Mecca, and Medina, its second most sacred site, in half. The Haramain Railway is one of the largest transport projects in the Middle East. Now it will target 60 million passengers a year.

The journey between the Haramain (two holy mosques) is now shorter and easier than at any time before Transport Minister Nabil al-Amoudi told dignitaries, gathered at the station recently.

The officials believe the improved transport links between the holy cities will boost tourism revenue in the country as the nation seeks to shed dependence on oil exports.

The authorities hope the train will also stimulate growth of King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), a massive business zone that was initiated under the previous ruler but remains relatively empty. It will eventually link up with a new terminal at airport, which has already started serving select domestic routes and will take over all flights by early next year. Fatallah said further expansion could include connecting to a planned east-west train between the capital Riyadh and Jeddah.

The pilgrims comprise the bulk of Saudi Arabia´s 20 million annual foreign visitors, apart from workers and business travellers. More than two million came for this year´s hajj and 6.5 million performed umrah in 2017.

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