First phase of Makkah transport system 'ready for 2017'

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(AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

(AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

The first phase of a $16.5bn public transport system for Saudi Arabia’s holiest city Makkah will be completed in 2017, according to Mayor Osama Al-Bar.

The network will cover the entire city, including four metro lines, 88 stations and a rapid bus service, to help make it easier to travel to and within the city, which is home the Islam’s Grand Mosque.

Al-Bar said the first phase would be construction of a 30km metro line from Um Al-Qura University in Abidiya to Sayeda Aisha Mosque at a cost of SR25.5bn ($6.8bn).

Construction would begin by the middle of next year and take three years, he said.

The network also will include underground lines in areas closest to the Grand Mosque, while further out suspension bridges will be used.

The project is being overseen by Makkah Railway Company, with French consultancy firm Systra and BW Engineers from Germany also being involved.

Al-Bar also revealed the express bus services would cover 60km of the city with 60 stations, with a local bus service to operate in other areas and linking Makkah with other residential districts.

The entire system is expected to be completed within 10 years in three phases.

The public transport network will compliment the largest renovation and expansion of the Grand Mosque in its history.

The $21.3bn project is expected to increase capacity at Islam’s holiest site to 2m pilgrims at one time.

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