The big day is finally near: Saudi Arabia’s Haramain High-Speed Train, also known as the “Western Railway" or "Mecca–Medina High-Speed Railway,” will be fully operational on the 24th of September, taking passengers between Mecca and Medina via Jeddah and Rabigh. Earlier this year, the project already saw a successful test trip made in June, transporting over 200 people, amongst them Saudi Arabia’s transport minister and General Transport Authority chairman Nabil Al-Amoudi.
The high-speed rail project is a 453-kilometre-long high-speed inter-city rail transport system that has been designed to link the two holy cities of Islam via King Abdullah Economic City, King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, using almost 450 kilometres of main line and a 3.75-kilometre branch connection to King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA). The network will be connected to existing rail transport in Jeddah.
It is being reported by Saudi Gazette that tickets for the train will soon be made available on the Haramain High-Speed Train’s official website. From its start date until the end of 2018, the train is scheduled to run eight services daily on both sides. The number of services will then be increased to 12 at the beginning of 2019 and perhaps will be more in the future depending on demand.
According to Saudi officials, the train is designed to travel at speeds of over 300 kilometres per hour, making it the fastest train in the Middle East and North Africa. In fact, travelling the 78 kilometres between Jeddah and Mecca will take less than half an hour, while the 410 kilometres between Jeddah and Medina will take about 2 hours. In addition, the train is expected to transport 60 million passengers a year on 35 trains, with a seating capacity of over 410 people per train.