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Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro

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Title: Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro  
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Subject: Mecca, Transport in Saudi Arabia, Changchun Railway Vehicles, Saudi Railways Organization, Haramain High Speed Rail Project
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro

Not to be confused with Haramain High Speed Rail Project.
Makkah (`Mecca') Mass Rail Transit
Type Elevated rail
Status Phase I open[1]
Locale Mecca
Termini Resaifah
Stations 9 in operation (97 planned)
Services 1 in operation (5 planned)
Opening 13 November 2010[1]
Rolling stock Changchun Railway Vehicles
Line length 18.1 kilometres (11.2 mi)
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge
Operating speed 100 km/h (62 mph)
Route map

The Mecca Metro, officially known as the Makkah ('Mecca') Mass Rail Transit Project, is a metro system under construction in the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The first line, the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro, a 18.1 km (11.2 mi) long elevated railway [2] opened in November 2010.;[1] it is notable for having the highest capacity of any metro in the world.[3]

In August 2012 it was announced that the Saudi government had approved US$16.5 billion to build the remaining four lines (182 km (113.1 mi), 88 stations) of the system.[4][5]


The first line transports pilgrims between holy sites in Mecca, Mount Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina to reduce congestion caused by buses and cars during the Hajj. It also carries pilgrims performing Umrah throughout the year. The Saudis estimate the railway will replace 53,000 buses, promising a safer, more comfortable pilgrimage.[6]

Mecca Metro is stated to be the world's fastest design, build to operate metro in the world at 22 months and was opened on 13 November 2010,[1] in time for the Hajj 1431 between 25 and 29 November.[7] It was initially operated at 35% capacity with automatic train protection to assist manual driving.[2] A member of staff was due be retained onboard once driverless operation were introduced in 2011.

By the time of the 2011 Hajj (Hajj 1432) it was able to operate at 100% capacity and is estimated to have carried more that 3.95 million passengers[8] making it, for that period, the most intensively used metro line in the world and among the busiest systems in the world. Each 12 car train carries 3,000 passengers and the headway is 150 seconds (24 trains per hour).[Notes 1]

In peak periods the line operates with a special `group shuttle' schedule with three departure stations and three arrival stations. (At each holy site on the line there are three stations.) At non-peak times stopping-all-stations service is run.[8]

The line is elevated at a height varying between 8 metres (26 ft) and 10 metres (33 ft).[2][9]

Although the metro uses conventional steel wheel on rail technology, it is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a 'monorail'.[9]


Under the proposed expansion in Phase 1, due to commence construction in 2013:

  • a 10 km (6.2 mi) underground Line B with six stations will extend the existing Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah line, and will connect to a the future Haramain High Speed Rail station to the west of the city.
  • Line C will have 14 stations and will be 29 km (18.0 mi) long, partly elevated and partly underground.

Phase 1 is due to be completed by 2017.

Under future phases two more lines, A and D, will be built.[10]

The announcement of government financing says that the entire expansion will take 10 years. Invitation for tenders were due to be issued in January 2013[11]

Construction: Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro

China Railway Construction Corp was responsible for infrastructure construction[3] and systems integration under the 6.7 billion riyal phase I contract which was awarded by the Saudi Arabian government in February 2009 following a visit by President Hu Jintao of China.[12]

CRCC carried out construction of the project infrastructure and integrated and subcontracted various systems.[13] The line was built in only 22 months [3] by about 8,000 skilled and unskilled workers and approximately 5,000 engineers [13]

Several subcontracts were awarded. Al-Muruj Electromechanical Co. was awarded MEP works at all 9 stations of the Mecca Metro. Siemens provided the Overhead Line Catenary System supplied at 1500 V DC.Westinghouse Platform Screen Doors supplied the platform screen doors,[7][14] Siemens power supplies, and WS Atkins is responsible for electrical and mechanical systems and project management.[2] Thales supplied SelTrac Communications-Based Train Control, an operations control centre, CCTV, SCADA and passenger information systems.[2] Systra supervised the civil work.[2] Serco provides operations and maintenance consultancy. TÜV Rheinland were the Independent Competent Person (ICP)on the project and provided Safety, Operations, Training, Fire and Systems Assurance consultancy support including the development of System-Wide, O&M Safety Case and HSQE Management Systems. TUV Rheinland also secured the Operating License & Safety Certificate for acceptance by the Saudi Railway Commission (SRC) in 2011, 2012 & 2013. Air Conditioning solution was provided by SKM Sharjah, UAE.

CRCC losses on contract

In November 2010 CRCC claimed they had lost 4.15 billion yuan (~US$ 600 million) on the US$ 1.77 billion contract due to changes insisted on by the client.[15] The earth works alone reportedly increased two-and-a-half times from 2 million cubic metres to 5 million[16] CRCC was seeking, with Chinese government support, extra compensation from the Saudi Arabian government to help cover the losses.

Rolling stock

On 4 April 2009 Changchun Railway Vehicles was awarded a contract to supply 17 Type A 12-car metro trainsets.[2] Each set have eight motor and four trailer cars, all with aluminium bodies. A Type A car is 22.3 metres long and 3 metres wide.[17] Knorr-Bremse supplied the braking systems[14] with modifications to suit sandy conditions.[7]

The first trainset was shipped from China in May 2010 and the last arrived by the end of 2010.[7]

See also



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