Saudi plans to build five monorails to link holy cities


According to Dr Habeeb Zain Al Abidine, deputy minister of municipal and rural affairs, each monorail is estimated to cost SR4 billion. “It (the project) will solve many problems facing the transportation of pilgrims between the holy sites as a result of overcrowding,” he added. He said at present many pilgrims travelling in buses reach Arafat and Muzdalifah very late because of traffic congestion. “Monorails would reduce pressure on roads in the holy sites,” he said.

Monorails offer quick, safe and environment-friendly transportation. “In the first phase, it could be used for domestic pilgrims as well as those pilgrims who come by land from foreign countries,” he explained. Al Abidine said the system would help transport at least 500,000 pilgrims within six to eight hours, and reduce the number of buses by 25,000 from a total of 70,000 used by domestic pilgrims as well as pilgrims who come by land from neighbouring countries.

“Once this system is found successful, it will be applied on a wider scale in the holy sites, in Makkah and in other parts of the country,” he said. Al Abidine said a feasibility study on the project, which has been approved by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, is designed to transport five million pilgrims. He added that the ministry was conducting the study with the support of Saudi and foreign experts.

Al Abidine, who called for implementing the project without further delay, added that it would help organise the flow of pilgrims to the Jamarat and then to the Grand Mosque in Makkah. Monorail, which is a single rail serving as the track for a wheeled or (magnetically) levitating vehicle, has been rapidly paving its way as a modern urban transit system, providing the most-sought-after transportation solutions for a built-up congested city.

They are proving to be a more effective and viable solution to rapid urbanisation due to numerous advantages. The minister said that the monorail system is expected to generate annual revenues of SR200 million by transporting some one million Haj pilgrims at a cost of SR200 per pilgrim and an additional SR150 million from services to Umrah pilgrims charging SR50 per pilgrim.


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