RIYADH – The high-speed train linking Saudi Arabia’s holy cities of Medina and Mecca made on Sunday its first test run along the entire route, completing the 450 kilometer (281 mile) journey in two hours and 52 minutes.
A spokesperson for al-Shoula, the Spanish-Saudi consortium responsible for the project, told EFE that the train exceeded 300 kilometers (180 miles) per hour in some sections of the route.
The train passes through the port city of Jeddah, and will be used to ease congestion for pilgrims traveling to and from Mecca as part of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which last year saw over 2.3 million people.
The inaugural trip was attended by Saudi Transport Minister, Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi, Spanish Ambassador Alvaro Iranzo, and representatives of companies carrying out the project, according to the official Saudi news agency SPA.
The companies responsible for developing the second phase of the project had committed to performing a trial operation before the end of 2017.
The high-speed train was scheduled to begin its commercial operation in March, but there were delays in work at three stations.
The delivery deadline was postponed for 14 months due to delays resulting from the technical difficulties of the project.
The consortium in charge of the second phase of the project is composed of 12 Spanish companies and Saudi Arabia’s al-Shoula and al-Rosan firms.
The second phase of the project was awarded to the consortium at the end of 2011 for 6.74 billion euros ($8.08 billion) and included the design and construction of tracks and systems over more than 450 kilometers and the supply of 35 trains, in addition to operation and maintenance for 12 years.