The line will have a design speed of 350km/h and trains are expected to operate at up to 300km/h, giving a journey time of 1h 30min between the two cities.

As well as looking at potential traffic, the 10-month study will provide cost estimates, revenue projections, and a preliminary specification for the infrastructure.

SRO president H E Mohamed Al-Suwaiket says the proposals for the new line will not affect the railway's plans to reduce journey times on the existing line to less than three hours, adding that such improvements will be possible with the introduction of new trains.