Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro Project, Macca Saudi Arabia (Video)

Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro Project, Macca Saudi Arabia :The month of Dhul Hijjah has started and the Islamic Pilgrimage is coming soon. Saudi Arabia always seeks to provide safe and smooth Hajj for the three million pilgrims who visit each year, with challenges in preventing stampedes, fires and the spread of diseases at the holy city. Crowds and crush trampling cause hundreds of deaths every year, so crowd-control techniques are very critical to decrease these incidents.

This year the pilgrims are going to have less crowds, traffic and stampedes in the Hajj, after the completion of a new metro, a high elevated-rail which will transport them between the holy sites. The metro started limited operations at 35% capacity in November 2010.

Mr. Habib Bin Zain Alabedin, Undersecretary of the Saudi Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, and the President of the Central Administration of the Holy Places’ Development Projects, has announced that the the first phase of the project, called Al-Mashaaer Al-Muqaddassah Metro, is ready and working full capacity during this Hajj season, after only a two-year period of design and implementation.

Saudi Arabia has undertaken many railways to expand its railway network to meet the transportation needs of its increasing population. Al-Mashaaer Metro can transport about 500,000 pilgrims in six to eight hours using each of four lines during this year’s pilgrimage. It operation will allow authorities to reduce the number of buses needed from 70,000 to 25,000. The metro will continue to operate during the rest of the year serving religious tourism and Umrah pilgrims. In 2012 it is expected that the metro will be able to transport up to two million people.

China Railway Construction Company (CRCC) has carried out the construction of the infrastructure of the project with a US$1.8 billions contract awarded by the Saudi Arabian government in February 2009.

About 8,000 workers and 5,000 engineers were engaged in the implementation. Zain Alabedin said the ministry has contracted many international experts to follow up on the operation of the metro. Australian expert Paul Anderson says that Al-Mashaaer Metro is qualified to enter the Guinness Book of Records because of its high techniques and features.

The first phase of the project includes a four-line loop running for 18.1 km (11.2 miles) connecting Makkah, Arafat, Muzdalifa and Mina. It has nine stops, three stations at each place, which covers all places of Hajj rites., This phase is referred to as the Pink Line.

The first lines started operations with Automatic Train Protection (ATP) last November. ATP helps in preventing collisions resulting from driver’s failure to observe a signal or speed restriction through audible warnings and applying brakes.

Colored bracelets will be given to the pilgrims when they purchase tickets so that they would know which stations they should exit at.

“The ticket price of riding the train is 250 Saudi Riyal (US$ 66.68) for the whole days of Hajj, starting from Dhul Hijjah 8, to 13 of the month,” Zain Alabedin said.

Phases & Progress

He continued that Al-Mashaaer Metro is considered the most advanced in the world in terms of the techniques and infrastructure and the executing companies of the project, pointing out that the train is operated with a remote control system.

More phases of the project are currently under construction. When these phases are finished and linked to phase one, the holy city of Makkah is going to have a complete train network to cover and handle all the flow of pilgrims between the holy sites.

Phase two, the Red Line, is a straight link between Mina and Makkah.

Phase three, the Orange Line, will connect Makkah to large multilevel parking facilities from the west to the south.

Phase four, the Blue Line, will connect Mina to the west side of Makkah through a big loop to the north.

Phase five, the Yellow Line, circles Makkah with a straight extension to the north. It connects to the Red Line, the Blue Line and the Orange Line, thus facilitating continuous metro service between the parking areas and Arafat.

The metro is designed to run at an elevation 8 to 10 meters (26-33 ft) above ground so that it would not obstruct the vehicle and pedestrian traffic on the streets below. The project also includes multi-storey parking to help pilgrims park their cars before taking the ride.

Each metro consists of 12 carriages, with a total length of 277 meters and three meters wide. The capacity of each metro is 3,000 passengers. It runs on a powerful superstructure of steel railroad supported by concrete pillars of prefabricated steel masts and beams. The superstructure is designed to be auto-responsive to the forces of acceleration and emergency braking.

More extensions are under consideration to link The Ka`bah with Jeddah airport in western Saudi Arabia as well as connect the two holy cities of Makkah and Medina.

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