Makkah-Madinah train set to roll by January 2014

Updated 24 August 2012
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Makkah-Madinah train set to roll by January 2014

JEDDAH: Construction is under way on the first high-speed passenger railway line between Makkah and Madinah and is expected to be complete by January 2014.
Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry, said the new Madinah railway station situated close to the Prince Muhammad Airport would serve Haj and Umrah pilgrims more efficiently.
“The work on the Haramain High Speed Rail Project between Makkah and Madinah is progressing on time and as planned,” Al-Seraisry, who is also chairman of the Saudi Railway Organization, told Al-Jazirah daily.
The 480-km railway line, constructed specifically for high-speed electric trains, will pass through the port city of Jeddah.
The first phase of the Haramain project includes the building of a railway station at Makkah and Madinah and two stations in Jeddah including the one at King Abdulaziz International Airport.
Initially the Haramain railway is expected to carry more than 3 million passengers annually. According to statistics, more than 3.5 million pilgrims were transported between Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah in 2005.
The same year saw more than 2 million Umrah pilgrims. According to studies conducted by the Haj Ministry, demand for transporting Haj pilgrims is expected to double over the next 25 years and Umrah pilgrims will total 11 million.
This, along with the huge potential for employment of Saudis, resulted in significant investment in the transport sector.
Minister Al-Seraisry said Saudization of the sector would start at 75 percent, with the intention to achieve 100 percent.
The project contract specifies an institute to train Saudi workers on high-speed technology be established.
“Technical matters relating to issues like safety, however, would require foreign experts,” he said.
Saudi Arabia currently has 1,200 km of railway lines and when current rail projects are complete, the total will be closer to 7,000 km.
A SR 30.8 billion contract was signed between the government and Al-Shoula Co., a Saudi-Spanish consortium, to implement Phase II of the Haramain project in January.
New railway and expansion projects currently underway in the Kingdom include North-South Rail, the Land-bridge Project between Riyadh and Jeddah, and the GCC Railway.
The North-South Rail has two components: A service to transport minerals to manufacturing centers at the Ras Al-Khair port in the Arabian Gulf; and a passenger and freight service. It will start at the Jordanian border and link with the Riyadh to Dammam Railway.
The GCC railway project will connect the six GCC members, starting in Kuwait, passing through Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, and ending in Oman.


All eyes on Mina as Hajj begins today

A Hajj security man takes care of a child. Security forces have been deployed around the clock to deal with all emergency cases. (SPA)
Updated 19 August 2018
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All eyes on Mina as Hajj begins today

JEDDAH: Around 2 million pilgrims arrived in the Holy Land from outside and inside the Kingdom in preparation to set out from Makkah for Mina.
They will retrace the noble tradition of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and spend the Tarwiyah Day on Sunday in Mina. Here they will make final preparations for the Standing (Wuquf) at Arafat, which marks the climax of the annual pilgrimage, on Monday.
To be able to serve the pilgrims and enable them to perform Hajj rituals with ease and comfort, the government and private sectors concerned with Hajj and pilgrim affairs intensify their preparations, under the direct supervision of Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, adviser to King Salman, the governor of Makkah region and chairman of the Central Hajj Committee, and followed up by his deputy, Prince Abdullah bin Bandar.
The Ministry of Health will provide intensive and continuous health services supported by skillful human cadres and state-of-the-art medical technologies, in order to provide the best health services for pilgrims. The Ministry of Health has employed a total of 29,495 physicians, pharmacists, nurses and technicians to provide extensive health care to the pilgrims.
According to the ministry, its manpower during the Hajj consists of 780 consultants in various medical specializations, 1,248 specialists; 2,718 general practitioners; 1,428 pharmacists; 3,553 nurses; 1,173 technicians and lab specialists; 198 specialists in nutrition; 5,587 administrators; 165 engineers; and 1,491 ambulance drivers.
The General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque will operate and maintain all technical devices and systems of lighting, air-conditioning and ventilation, sound and control systems, cameras, communication devices and electrical stairs, buildings and libraries in the Two Holy Mosques.
Air-conditioning has been installed in the basement and ground floor and many other areas. Thousands of fans have been installed in the Two Holy Mosques and their yards.
The area around the Two Holy Mosques has been equipped with more than 8,441 toilets, as well as more than 6,000 ablution units. All power supply lines have been prepared to make sure there is power 24/7.
More than 10,000 male and female employees will be available to follow up on work and monitor it during Ramadan, in addition to a large number of cleaners.
Among the services also provided by the Presidency are translation of Friday sermons into 10 languages, organization of various scientific programs, and competitions.
A total of 210 doors in the Grand Mosque and 100 doors in the Prophet’s Mosque have been prepared, as well as 28 escalators in the Grand Mosque and four escalators in the Prophet’s Mosque. There are 38 doors for people with special needs and seven for women.
The Saudi Red Crescent deployed 127 emergency centers, 361 ambulances, 20 motorbikes, and more than 1,861 people to work in the ranges of Makkah and Madinah.
There will be 22 operational hospitals in Madinah and the holy sites, 15 temporary emergency centers, supported with more than 87 ambulances and 653 paramedics.
The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs mobilized its human and mechanical capabilities to enable pilgrims to perform their duties in a safe and healthy environment by employing more than 26,000 individuals and 717 mechanisms to implement the hygiene plan in Makkah and the holy sites, as well as specialized field teams to control 33,069 food facilities in Makkah.
Civil defense teams will be deployed around the clock to deal with all emergency cases, where the injuries will be transferred using stretchers and wheelchairs to several medical evacuation sites inside and outside the mosque.
These teams will also be carrying out extraction and rescue operations inside the Holy Mosque and the surrounding area, in addition to providing urgent first aid, and transferring critical cases to the nearest hospitals and health centers, in coordination with the Red Crescent teams around the Holy Mosque. The Hajj security forces leaderships announced their readiness to maintain the security and safety of pilgrims during the pilgrimage season.
The General Command of the Air General Security is supported by all the security services and various government sectors.
In preparation for the Hajj season, the Saudi General Security Aviation Command announced that it has started implementing the first phase of its security plan to ensure the safety of pilgrims in the Kingdom. The aviation command will commence security operations over the holy sites, where special helicopters will monitor the activities surrounding the Hajj season this year. The planes are stationed in the designated locations in Makkah and Madinah from various bases to carry out the tasks assigned to them, namely traffic and security, logistical support for other security bodies, humanitarian services and the monitoring of pilgrims not following the rules.