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Saudi offers free tickets on Haramain line ahead of launch

Saudi offers free tickets on Haramain line ahead of launch

The 450km line, linking the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, was expected to open at the start of this year

The management of Saudi Arabia’s delayed Haramain Express train line has announced plans to offer free tickets to citizens for weekly trials ahead of its commercial launch.

The 450km line, linking the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City of Rabigh, was originally due to open in 2012 but has been hit by delays and cost increases.

Full trials were conducted in November and officials had previously indicated passenger services would begin at the start of 2018.

However, minister of transport Dr Nabil bin Mohammed Al Amoudi said earlier this month that the line would not begin commercial operations until at least the end of the third quarter.

Read: Saudi pushes back Haramain rail opening until Q3

President of the Public Transport Authority Rumaih Al-Rumaih told Saudi Press Agency on Monday that citizens could register for free trial tickets at approved distribution points in Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah.

He said the trials would allow the operator to get feedback from the Saudi community ahead of the targeted launch in September.

The first free tickets will be for journeys between Madinah and Makkah on June 1. They will be available to men and women aged over 18 without luggage.

The rail project has five stations — two terminus stations in Makkah and Madinah, and two central stations in Jeddah and Rabigh, and a fifth station at King Abdulaziz International Airport built by the General Authority of Civil Aviation.

It will be operated by 35 passenger cars on two-way trips between Makkah and Madinah.

These will travel at speeds of 300kmh and reduce journey times between Makkah and Jeddah to 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.

Travel between Makkah and Madinah will take less than two and a half hours.

Later stages could see the line linked to Jeddah Islamic Port and Makkah’s metro.

The train line is eventually intended to handle 60 million passengers per year when it reaches fully capacity from the first quarter of 2019.

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