It was announced yesterday that Muslims wishing to use Mecca’s first metro when they converge on the holy city next month for their annual pilgrimage will have to pay SR250 for a ticket that will serve them for seven days.
Three different types of tickets will cover all holy sites in Mecca and will allow the pilgrims to take the train into the city to perform their rites before returning to their residence inside or outside the city, Ajel online newspaper said, quoting Habib Zain Alabidin, Undersecretary at the Saudi Ministry of Municipal affairs.
“The ticket’s price is set at SR250 (US$ 67) that will cover a full trip into and out of Mecca for seven days…another ticket is priced at SR100 (US$ 27) for four days,” he said.
Officials said last week the train has a capacity to transport 170,000 passengers in its first stage and two million when the third and final phase is completed.
Saudi Arabia has allocated nearly SR6.7 billion (US$ 1.8 billion) for the metro, which begins continuous service next month for the first time in Mecca’s history. Officials expect the project to largely contribute to easing road congestions caused by the accumulation of thousands of cars near Makkah.
Habib Zain Alabidin says the railway would operate throughout the year.
The project is part of a costly programme by Saudi Arabia to tackle massive traffic congestions in and around the city and facilitate access to all sacred sites in Mecca.
The train project, initiated three years ago, followed a series of incidents that have killed thousands of pilgrims in stampedes, building collapses and other accidents during the few days of the Haj season.
More than two million Muslims from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Co-operation Council countries and other nations descend on Mecca every year to perform the pilgrimage.
China Railway Construction Corp, part of a Saudi-French-Chinese consortium which won the contract, is carrying out the project, involving nearly 5,000 workers. The train is the Gulf’s second metro system after the Dubai Metro.