Commercial operations began on October 11 2018 with four return services each day linking the holy cities on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. All trains call at Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).

Following a successful launch phase, Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO) and the Saudi Public Transport Authority have authorised the expansion of services.

Al Shoula, a consortium of 12 Spanish and two Saudi companies appointed in 2011 to equip, operate and maintain the line, says the line carried 209,142 passengers between October 11 2018 and February 3 2019 and load factors have stabilised at around 79%.

The line’s fleet of Talgo trains has covered 304,359km during this period and punctuality has reached 96.9% in recent weeks.

Al Shoula consortium members include Abengoa Inabensa, Adif, Cobra, Consultrans, Copasa, Imathia, Indra, Ineco, OHL, Renfe, Siemens Rail Automation and Talgo, and Saudi firms Al Rosan and Al Shoula.