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Mecca Monorail to open this year
Part of the rail system will launch this year; network will be fully operational before the commencement of Haj in 2011.
March 21, 2010 3:02 by Ben Flanagan
The Mecca Monorail project is expected to become fully operational before the commencement of Haj next year, while 35 percent of the project will be ready for pilgrims by the end of 2010.
Four international consultancy firms began feasibility studies to undertake the SAR6.65 billion project in early 2009.
The first part of the project to be completed will be the line that begins in the southeast of Arafat (where most domestic and Gulf pilgrims converge), and pass through to Muzdalifah.
The rail network will initially link the holy sites to the Haramain Railway and other railway networks, and eventually to the GCC-wide railway. It is expected to solve the traffic difficulties pilgrims face during the annual Haj.
Each of the five lines of the monorail project will have an hourly capacity to carry 60,000 to 80,000 passengers between Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah, and at a later stage Mina and Mecca.
The project has been launched with the construction of the southern line because most Saudi and Gulf pilgrims camp in that area of Mina. These pilgrims need 35,000 vehicles for transportation between the holy sites.
On completion, pilgrims will have to walk no more than 300 meters to reach one of the three monorail boarding stations in Arafat. Muzdalifah will also have three stations, while the stations in Mina will be close to its entry points, its center and the fourth floor of the Jamrat Bridge.
The stations will be elevated and pilgrims will have access to escalators and staircases to reach them.
All trains will have 12 large compartments, each of which will be 23 meters long and three meters wide.
Each compartment will have five two-meter wide doors on each side and a capacity to carry 250 to 300 passengers.
The second line to be constructed will be the central line linking Arafat and Mina.