Saudi trains to connect holy sites

Jeddah: Saudi Arabia will launch next year seven high-speed trains to connect the kingdom's holy sites that are visited by millions of pilgrims from around the world every year. Seven high-speed trains will operate between Mecca and Jeddah every hour while two trains per hour will operate between Mecca and Madinah, said the director general of the project, Bassam Gilman. The project, which began in 2009, is near completion after finalisation of work at the Jeddah and Madinah stations, Arab News reported. The 480 km project will link the kingdom's holy sites to other cities to facilitate travel for pilgrims and visitors and is expected to have a life span of over 120 years. The project is 90 per cent complete and the first phase of the Madinah to Jeddah portion is expected to be ready by the last quarter of 2016. The portion from Jeddah to Mecca is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.