The Saudi Railways Organisation has reportedly revised plans to open new stations in Jeddah, King Abdullah City and Madinah on a commercial basis until the full operation of the Haramain Railway project.
The $14bn project is due to be completed by the end of next year and will provide 35 passenger cars on two-way trips between Makkah and Madinah every half an hour.
An official told Aleqtesadiah that the stations were unlikely to open before the railway itself was operational, but work on the project had not slowed down.
“Operating the stations will constitute a financial burden on the project management because the key customer, passengers, has not come yet,” he was quoted as saying.
The 450km line is expected to cut travel between Makkah 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.
The project was originally due to open in 2012 but has been hit by delays and cost increases.
Its first phase of civil engineering, preparation and track placement was completed in 2012 and now the second phase of remaining infrastructure work headed by a Saudi-Spanish consortium is approaching its final year.
Under the agreement, the consortium will be responsible for the full operation and maintenance for the project over 12 years, starting in 2017.