Makkah transport system gathers steam
MAKKAH: Irfan Mohammed
The prestigious Makkah Integrated Transport System is gaining momentum in the holy city as authorities gear up to initiate the SR25.5 billion project by processing tenders which are expected to be finalized soon.
This is the third project in the holy city in addition to the existing Mashaheer train service used during Haj and the proposed high-speed Haram rail service.
The integration of the bus transport system with the train services is the prime feature of the project and will also cover all public transport such as the metro lines, the express bus lines, local buses and the shuttle bus service.
Around 15 international consortiums and some local companies have expressed their interest in the project and the processing of tenders is expected to be finalized in another two months, said Osama Al-Bar, chairman of the executive committee of the Makkah Integrated Transport Authority and mayor of the holy city.
He revealed that in the first phase of the work of the metro train system, two metro lines, one red and one green, with a length of 46 km will be built while 40 percent of the train lines will run through underground tunnels.
The first metro line will be 11 km long with seven stations and will be mostly underground. It will run from the Jamrat region in Mina west via the northern side of the Grand Mosque, King Abdul Aziz Road, and the Haramain high-speed station in Rusaifa to the Makkah-Jeddah Expressway.
The second metro line will be partially underground and will be 33 km long with 15 stations. It will start at Madinah Road north of Taneem Mosque, run south along the western side of the Grand Mosque, and via King Abdulaziz Towers, Azizia Street and Taif-Karr Road to Umm Al-Qura University, according to the mayor.
The first phase is expected to be completed within five years, according to Mohammed Madani, regional director in the Ministry of Transport in Makkah. The five-year work span is one year more than the one announced earlier.
The project of the Makkah Integrated Transport system includes a network of trains consisting of four metro lines with a total length of 114 km and 62 stations. In addition, the project includes a network of bus transport that covers the city of Makkah at four different levels, including the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Local Bus, Feeder Bus Service, and Shuttle Bus that connect the parks (Park and Ride) and Al-Masjid Al-Haram, train stations, and express buses.
The Saudi Railway Organization is constructing a station in Rusaifah as part of the high-speed Harmain Rail from Makkah to Madinah. The station in Makkah will have the arrival and departure concourses, a mosque with a capacity of 600 worshipers, a center for civil defense, helipad, 10 platforms for trains, a car parking lot with a capacity of 5,000 cars which are divided into short and long-term parking and VIP lounges.
The station has also been linked to the Public Transportation System through the provision of an appropriate parking area for buses, linking the station via pedestrian pathways. The work of this station is in full swing.
Makkah’s first train line, the 18 km Al-Mashaheer Al-Mugadassah metro, opened in 2010 and links the pilgrimage sites of Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat.
The project’s aim is to reduce vehicular congestion in the Grand Mosque area in central Makkah and facilitate easier movement for pilgrims.