From the news desk

Haramain rail on track

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The Haramain high-speed link connecting Makkah with Madinah is on track and will open by the end of Dec. 2015, according to Director General of Expansion Projects at Saudi Railways Organization Wasmi Al-Ferraj. Addressing a press conference, Al-Ferraj said that the line’s station in Madinah is now 52 percent complete.

The Makkah terminal and a stop in Jeddah are also nearing completion while the one serving King Abdullah Economic City almost 38 percent done. A fifth station will serve Jeddah International airport. The Haramain link, which is being constructed specifically for high-speed electric trains, will be 450-km long and allow trains to reach a speed of at least 300 kmph, linking the two holy cities.

The project has been divided into six sections or “areas”: Area 1 starts in Makkah and runs to the 70km mark; area 2 runs from 70 km to 100 km; area 3 from 100 km to 185 km; area 4 from 185 km to 285 km; area 5 up to 350 km; and area 6 to the end of the 450 km track in Madinah. The line will cost almost $12b, with the first phase, split into two parts, having a budget totaling $4.1b and the second – which includes the tracks and signaling – some $7.9b, Al-Ferraj said.

The Kingdom’s first high-speed passenger rail line was slated for completion by January 2014. But due it unavoidable circumstances the construction has been delayed.Initially the Haramain railway is expected to carry more than 3 million passengers annually. AGENCIES

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