Saudi Arabia launches 1st railway linking Mecca, Medina

RIYADH (AA) – Saudi Arabia on Thursday launched its first-ever railway line linking Mecca to Medina, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

“The Haramain Expressway from Mecca to Medina — via Jeddah — officially became operational today, ” the SPA reported.

According to Project Director Saad al-Shehri, the railway’s first train set out from Medina on Thursday — en route to Mecca — with 417 passengers aboard.

“Meanwhile, a similar journey was made in the opposite direction — from Mecca to Medina — carrying the same number of passengers,” al-Shehri said.

The Haramain Expressway represents one of the region’s most ambitious transport projects.

At a total cost of some $2 billion, the 460-kilometer railway line is expected to serve up to 60 million passengers each year.

The electric speed-train can make the trip from Mecca to Medina in only one hour and 20 minutes, reaching speeds of up to 300 kilometers an hour.

The project aims to facilitate the movement of pilgrims and ease traffic congestion between the two cities.