By Aya Lowe, Staff Reporter www.gulfnews.com
Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s new metro system will ease traffic congestion during the annual Haj pilgrimage, a top official has said.
The Haramain High Speed Rail project, which is under construction, will be a 449.2km high-speed inter-city system linking Madinah and Makkah.
Each year three million to four million pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia to perform the Haj.
During the Haj around two million people come from abroad by air and an estimated one million come by road.
During this period, Makkah, which has a resident population of 1.7 million, experiences high congestion from the 70,000 vehicles that transport the pilgrims between the sites of the pilgrimage.
“The number of pilgrims is increasing. We have about 70,000 buses moving between [three holy places].
“It’s very difficult to transport more than three million pilgrims in a very limited time and space,” said Salim Al Bosta of the Central Directorate for Development of Projects at the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs.
“The target group of the metro system will be the pilgrims from inside the country, from the Gulf states and pilgrims coming by land by bus,” he added.
Shuttle transport from Arafat to Muzdalifah, which is about 12km, can take six to eight hours, and in some cases up to 10 hours because of the congestion. More info