Saudi Arabia King, Salman bin Abdulaziz, during a ceremony in Jeddah, inaugurated a high-speed rail line which links the two holy cities- Makkah and Madina together, IANS reported.
The King boarded one of the new trains for the inaugural trip between Jeddah and Medina, a spokesman for the construction consortium told Efe news agency.
“We thank Allah for the growth and prosperity in all fields in our country, and we thank Allah Almighty for His grace. Thank you,” the king said, according to the Saudi official news agency SPA.
Initially, the routes of the line will be limited and eight daily trips will be offered between Makkah and Medina for four days a week (Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday).
The 450 km Haramain rail line connects Mecca, Jeddah, King Abdulaziz International Airport, King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh and Medina.
The inauguration was attended by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and other Saudi officials, as well as by Spain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Alvaro Iranzo, and the president of the High Speed Spanish Consortium, Jorge Segrelles, among others, IANS reported.
A consortium including 12 Spanish firms along with two Saudi firms has been tasked with building the second phase of the project.
“This inauguration is a milestone for Spanish engineering, which has demonstrated the ability of our companies and engineers to build a high-speed train under extreme weather conditions,” Iranzo said, according to a statement from the consortium.
The Spanish consortium said in a statement that tickets will be able to be reserved “in the coming weeks.”
Regular trains will start operating on the line from next month between the stations of Makkah Al Mukarramah, Madinah, Sulaymaniyah in Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City, while trains to Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport will begin around mid-2019.
The step comes after the Kingdom has planned to reduce the eonomy’s dependence on oil through its Vision 2030 mission.