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Saudi starts train services for pilgrims in Makkah as Hajj begins

Saudi starts train services for pilgrims in Makkah as Hajj begins

The 18.1km line transports pilgrims between Makkah, Mount Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina

Saudi authorities have authorised the start of the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro line in Makkah, a shuttle train for pilgrims which operates only during the Hajj season.

The 18.1km line transports pilgrims between Makkah, Mount Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, and aims to reduce congestion caused by buses and cars during the Hajj.

The line was opened in November 2010 and became fully operational in November 2011.

The line provides transport for about 3.5 million people, with the number expected to increase to five million in future.

The metro includes 17 trains that can transport over 72,000 pilgrims per hour, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The trains start from the Jamarat station, and then go past Mina, Muzdalifah, and from there to Arafat, at a speed of 80-120 km per hour.

The project includes nine ground stations featuring automatic gates separating the trains, loading areas and waiting areas, and remote sensing technology for ticket holders.

Crowds are mobilised to stations in specific routes and are made to assemble in waiting areas that accommodate more than 3,000 pilgrims, the report stated.

The driverless train operates on an automatic system controlled by the operation and observation center, and was built on concrete columns on the central island of the road.

This year, officials completed the project of shading corridors and footpaths leading to the train stations at Mina and Al-Jamarat, which aims to protect pilgrims from sunlight and other weather conditions.

Authorities are also carrying out the ‘crowd control project’ at the train stations to organise pilgrims’ movement and prevent squatting inside stations, the report said.

The project is being carried out by an “intelligent application” – implemented for the first time at Hajj, which tracks pilgrims’ movements from the camps until they arrive on the train.

The application also serves as a link between the leaders of the pilgrims’ regiments and the control room of the crowd control centre, the report added.

Pilgrims also have electronic identification bracelets, connected to GPS, which were introduced after a 2015 stampede during Hajj killed hundreds of pilgrims.

About two million Muslim pilgrims have arrived in Makkah to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which began on Sunday, August 19.

Also read: Two million Muslim pilgrims flock to Makkah as Hajj begins

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