Makkah Metro will have 20 trains
The Makkah Metro is designed to accommodate 70,000 pilgrims hourly between holy sites during the peak days of Haj.
June 16, 2010 7:59 by Rasha Reslan
Municipal and Rural Affairs Minister Prince Mansour bin Miteb on Tuesday inspected the Makkah Metro which is designed to transport 70,000 pilgrims in an hour between the holy sites of Makkah, Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa during the peak days of Haj.
Speaking to reporters after inspecting the metro, which is also called Mashair Railway, Prince Mansour allayed public fears about the quality of the project, adding that it involves French, Canadian and German technology.
The project, covering 18 km, is in the final stages of construction. Thirty-five percent of its capacity would be used during this year’s Haj season. It will have 20 trains next year when it operates with full capacity. Each train will have 12 carriages.
The project includes construction of nine railway stations in Arafat, Mina and Muzdalifa, each 300 meters long. One station will be located near the Jamrat Bridge in Mina where the stoning ritual takes place. Pilgrims will be able to board the train from the bridge’s fourth floor.
The railway project would bring about remarkable improvements in the transportation of pilgrims between the holy sites, one of the main headaches for Saudi Haj managers. A test drive on the new railway is to take place on Aug. 1.
Commenting on media reports about the project, Prince Mansour said: “We respect what has been reported in the media. We benefit from the views being expressed by writers and citizens in the media. This project is designed by specialized international companies.”
He said the various components of the railway are being supplied by major Western companies. “For example, its engines are Canadian and breaks are German. The project is implemented by German Federal Railways in association with Saudi Engineering House.”
The minister added: “I would like to reassure everybody about the safety and performance of the new railway.” He added that the trains would be in green color.
Twenty percent of seats in the train will be allocated for the elderly, a source told Arab News. “It is expected that about half a million pilgrims would be transported from Arafat to Muzdalifa through this railway system,” he added.
Prince Mansour also inspected the second phase of the floodwater drainage systems in Arafat and Muzdalifa and along the roads of the holy sites. The new projects cost SR4 billion.
Meanwhile, a workshop was held at the Haj Ministry’s branch office in Jeddah to enlighten domestic Haj companies on the Mashair Railway. Abdul Qader Al-Jabarti, chairman of the Haj Committee, has asked the authorities to reduce the proposed charge for using the railway from SR250 to SR90.
“The railway is being established with the financial support of the government to serve pilgrims. The proposed fare of SR250 to be paid by each pilgrim using the railway is very high. It should be reduced to SR90,” he told Arab News.
Al-Jabarti said more than 150,000 pilgrims from Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries will use the facility during the first phase. “These pilgrims account for 73 percent of domestic pilgrims,” he pointed out. Al-Jabarti said all pilgrims including locals and foreigners will use the railway during the second phase of the project.