By Neeraj Gangal
First phase of project will connect the holy sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina.
The first phase of the Makkah Monorail project is expected to be completed before this year's Haj, according to a report.
According to the Arab News daily, president of the Saudi Railway Organization (SRO) Abdul Aziz Al Hoqail said on Thursday that this will enable Haj pilgrims to use 35 percent of train service.
This phase will connect the holy sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina. This will reduce the traffic congestion, specially on the day of Arafat, to a large extent, the daily added.
"While the entire project will be completed before the Haj season next year, the finishing of the first phase would mean that 35 percent of our services will be offered to the pilgrims this year itself," Hoqail said.
This would mean that more than 50,000 cars and buses that carry pilgrims between Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina would no longer be required, according to Arab News.
Work on the project began two years ago in the southern parts of the holy sites where majority of pilgrims from Saudi Arabia as well as Gulf countries are traditionally accommodated, it added.
"This would also mean that pilgrims will have to walk no more than 300 meters to reach any one of the three boarding stations in Arafat. Muzdalifah will also have three stations. The first station in Mina is close to Muzdalifah, the second in the center and the third close to the fourth floor of the Jamrat Bridge," Arab News said.
"The rail is constructed parallel to the pedestrian road so that pilgrim tents in Mina are not disturbed."
The entire train system, including stations, will be elevated and pilgrims will have access to escalators and staircases to reach it, according to the daily. The rail network will initially link the holy sites to the Haramain Railway and other railway networks, and eventually to the Gulf Railway, it added.
"Each of the five lines of the monorail project will have an hourly capacity to carry 60,000 to 80,000 passengers between Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah, and later between Mina and Makkah. All trains will have 12 large compartments, each of which will be 23 meters long and three meters wide," Arab News reported.