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Saudi Arabia opens high-speed railway to public

AFP  |  Jeddah 

Saudi Arabia's new high-speed railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travellers between and Medina, Islam's holiest cities.

The Haramain High Speed Rail system will transport passengers 450 kilometres (280 miles) via the port of at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour.

Two trains, each carrying 417 passengers, departed from and at 8 am (0500 GMT), according to the state-run

Two are initially planned in each direction, it said.

Saudi on October 25 inaugurated the high-speed railway, which local officials described as the biggest in the region.

The new link will slash the and from several hours to 120 minutes, transport officials said.

The rail project, dogged by several delays, was built at a cost of more than USD 16 billion, according to Saudi media.

In 2011, signed a deal for a Spanish consortium to build the rail track, supply 35 high-speed trains and handle a 12-year maintenance contract.

The kingdom is boosting its infrastructure spending and expanding its railways, including with a USD 22.5 billion metro system under construction in the capital Riyadh, as it seeks to diversify its

The annual pilgrimage, which is to be held in September next year, attracts more than two million Muslims to the Mecca region.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, October 11 2018. 17:55 IST