The metro links the pilgrimage sites of Mina,
Muzdalifa and Arafat and will initially be worked in driver-operated
mode at around 35% of design capacity. Driverless operation will start
in the middle of next year, allowing the line to run at its full
capacity of 72,000 passengers per hour per direction by the 2011 Hajj,
with trains running in convoys of three at 90-second headways.

mecca-metro-opens.jpgCNR Changchun, China, is supplying a fleet of 17 Type A 12-car trains,
each capable of accommodating around 3000 passengers. Twelve trains are
now in service and the remainder will be delivered by the end of

The speed of construction has been equally impressive, and work on the
$US 1.8 billion project only began in February 2009. However it has not
been without problems for contractor China Railway Construction Company
(CRCC), which issued a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange last
month saying it expects to make a $US 623 million loss on the project.

CRCC claims that the amount of work it was required to undertake
increased substantially during the period of construction, compared
with the estimated figures at the signing of the contract. It also
asserts that works due to be undertaken by the project owner were
delayed, and the specification was changed during construction to
increase capacity. CRCC says that in order to complete the line on
schedule it was forced to commit additional resources to the project,
resulting in a sizable loss.