Mecca edited

The train will link the holy cities of Medina and Mecca

A US$6.7 billion high-speed rail link between Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia has been officially opened.

The 450km line is reported to have trains which can go up to 300km per hour.

Officials hope it will transport 60 million passengers annually and ease traffic congestion for Muslim pilgrims – Medina and Mecca are two of Islam’s holiest cities.

The rail line will cut journey times from six hours by road to two hours on the high-speed train.

State firm Saudi Railway Organisation will operate the railway, with construction work undertaken by two consortiums containing international companies including Bouygues of France, China Railway Construction Corporation and Spain-based Obrascón Huarte Lain.

Construction on the Haramain railway began in March 2009, with the railway originally due to be operational in 2012, meaning that the project has been delivered six years behind schedule.

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