SAUDI Arabia’s Haramain high-speed line, running between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, carried a record 930,000 passengers during the period when a special timetable for Ramadan was in operation between March 23 and April 25.

The special timetable aimed to cater both for the transport needs of local residents and for the thousands of pilgrims who gather in the two Islamic holy cities during Ramadan.

The number of commercial services operated reached a record total of 2875, with an average punctuality rate of 96.9% during the special timetable period, which included the month of Ramadan itself up until April 20, plus the festival days held in celebration of Eid-al-Fitr until April 25.

The special timetable aimed to cater for both local passengers and the thousands of pilgrims travelling between the two holy cities by day and night during Ramadan. Photo credit: Renfe

The main addition to the regular services operated on the line during the rest of the year comprised night services run to meet the needs of travellers after the Iftar fast-breaking evening meal customary during Ramadan. To achieve this, train services were scheduled to run all night on peak demand days until 05.30. The opening hours of five stations on the line - Mecca, Medina, Central Jeddah, Jeddah Airport (KAIA) and King Abdullah Economic City - were extended to 24 hours during the same period.

The special operating plan included providing over 1 million seats, with more than 100 daily services being operated between Mecca and Madinah during the periods of maximum demand.

April 14 saw the largest number of passengers being carried in a single day since commercial operation began on the line in October 2018. On that day, a total of 37,335 passengers were carried by 115 trains, with 100% punctuality.

A monthly train service record was achieved in March, with 620,259 passengers carried, 2296 trains operated and 98% punctuality being recorded.