RIYADH — Saudi King Salman on Tuesday inaugurated a high-speed railway linking the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, Islam’s holiest cities, described by local officials as the biggest transportation project in the region.
The Haramain High-Speed Rail system will transport Muslim pilgrims, as well as regular travellers, 450 kilometres (280 miles) between the two cities via the Red Sea port of Jeddah in two hours.
With a speed of up to 300 kilometers per hour, the electric trains on the line will carry around 60 million passengers per year.
Saudi Arabia’s official SPA news agency reported that King Salman bin Abdulaziz inaugurated the railway line in Jeddah.
The railway line has five stations: Makkah, Jeddah, King Abdullah Economic City, King Abdulaziz International Airport and Madinah, said Saudi Transport Minister Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi, who was honored at its launching, according to report.
Thirty-five electrified passenger trains will slash the travel time from several hours to 120 minutes, offering a more comfortable trip to passengers as the trains are equipped with cutting-edge technology, transport officials said.
The rail project, dogged by several delays, was built at a cost of more than $16 billion, according to Saudi media.