Saudi Arabia's new high-speed railway opened to the public on Thursday, whisking Muslim pilgrims and other travellers between Mecca and Medina, Islam's holiest cities.
Two daily services are initially planned in each direction, it 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, Saudi Arabia 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 oil-dependent economy.
The annual hajj pilgrimage, which is to be held in September next year, attracts more than two million Muslims to the Mecca region.
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