Saudi Arabia has carried out a test of its Haramain high speed railway project, which is slated to begin operations later this year.
The express train made a trip from King Abdullah City in Rabigh to Madinah at speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour (km/h), local daily Arab News reported.
The SAR62bn ($16.5bn) project is due to be completed by the end of this year although only some stations will be open initially.
The train will connect Mecca and Madinah via Jeddah airport and King Abdullah Economic city in Rabigh.
The 450km line is expected to cut travel between Mecca and Jeddah to 21 minutes, Jeddah to King Abdulaziz Airport to 14 minutes, King Abdulaziz Airport to Rabigh to 36 minutes and Rabigh to Madinah to 61 minutes.
End to end, the travel time between Mecca and Madinah will be less than two and a half hours.
The fares have not yet been revealed.
Saudi’s General Investment Fund (GIF) has financed and facilitated the implementation of the project.
The project was originally due to open in 2012 but has been hit by delays and cost increases.
In November last year, it was announced that the Spanish consortium building the rail link had reached a preliminary deal with the Saudi government to finalise the works after the delays.
The Al Shoula consortium comprising 12 Spanish companies and two Saudi firms had become embroiled in a dispute over payments with the Saudi government.
The consortium’s contract, valued at 6.7bn euros ($7.11bn), is expected to be extended to March 2018, 14 months later than originally planned, a spokesman said.
When ready, the project will provide 35 passenger cars on two-way trips between Mecca and Madinah.
The trains are being manufactured by Talgo and have a maximum commercial speed of 300km/h. Each train will have 13 cars providing 417 seats, with a total length of 215m.
The project is projected to serve 60 million passengers annually.