KSA’s 300kph Haramain train to start service in September

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The Haramain high-speed train. (SPA file photo)
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Saudi Transport Minister Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi. (SPA)
Updated 07 May 2018
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KSA’s 300kph Haramain train to start service in September

JEDDAH: The first high-speed electric trains between Makkah and Madinah will be running by September, Saudi Transport Minister Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi said on Sunday. 

The high-speed electric train is designed to travel at speeds of more than 300 kilometers per hour and is considered the fastest in the Middle East. 

The railway will be able to carry 60 million passengers a year by the time it is fully operational at the beginning of 2019, Al-Amoudi said. 

The 450-kilometer main line will travel through King Abdullah Economic City, with a short branch line to the new King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah. 

Transport is a main pillar of the national economy and a key driver of the economic renaissance that will take place under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategy, Al-Amoudi told the opening session of the two-day Makkah Economic Forum at The Ritz Carlton Hotel in Jeddah. 

Aside from the Makkah-Madinah railway, the other major transport project is the new airport in Jeddah, the minister said. It will begin operations this month, with a limited number of domestic flights. Further domestic flights will be added in July and September, along with six new gates for international flights.

KAIA will be fully operational in the first three months of 2019, with a total of 46 gates. It will be five times the size of the existing airport, with a capacity of 30 million passengers a year, the minister said.

In addition, the aviation sector planned to develop a further 12 domestic airports, Al-Amoudi said. He described KAIA as one of the most important projects of the Civil Aviation Authority, considering it as a quality shift in the services of the airport, which is five times bigger than the existing one and with a capacity to accommodate more than 30 million travelers.

He said the first phase of the airport’s operational plan will start in May and will include a limited number of domestic flights through six gates. Other domestic flights through five gates will be added in July. In the third phase starting in September, the designed number of domestic flights will be completed and a number of international flights will be added through six new gates, which increases the total number to 17 gates. 


Trump slams rush to condemn Saudi Arabia over Jamal Khashoggi disappearance

Updated 11 min 17 sec ago
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Trump slams rush to condemn Saudi Arabia over Jamal Khashoggi disappearance

  • ‘I think we have to find out what happened first’
  • ‘Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that’

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized rapidly mounting global condemnation of Saudi Arabia over the mystery of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, warning of a rush to judgment and echoing the Saudis’ request for patience.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump compared the case of Khashoggi to the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.

“I think we have to find out what happened first,” Trump said. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.”

The Oval Office interview came not long after Trump spoke Tuesday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He spoke by phone a day earlier with King Salman.

After speaking with the king, Trump floated the idea that “rogue killers” may have been responsible for the disappearance. The president told the AP on Tuesday that that description was informed by his “feeling” from his conversation with Salman and that the king did not use the term.

“It sounded to me, maybe these could have been rogue killers,” Trump said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is now in Turkey after talks with King Salman and the crown prince in Riyadh on the case of Khashoggi.

Pompeo had a brief meeting with the king before a lengthy, 40-minute discussion with the crown prince.

“We are strong and old allies. We face our challenges together,” the crown prince said as he warmly welcomed Pompeo to the Saudi capital.

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir also had talks with Pompeo. “The secretary and the foreign minister agreed on the importance of a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said later.

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who lived in the US, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to complete paperwork related to his divorce. Saudi Arabia and Turkey have set up a joint team to investigate the disappearance.