It is also intended to have a partial opening of the line this year for demonstration purposes.

The Al Shoula consortium, which is responsible for equipping the 453km line linking Medina, Jeddah and Mecca, had initially sought around €500m in compensation for higher-than-expected costs, but in exchange for accepting substantially less they were granted more time to complete the infrastructure, and consequently avoided delay penalties of more than €400m.

The Haramain project has suffered from a series of delays. It was initially expected to be completed during the second half of 2016, but construction difficulties and governance problems inside the consortium led to revisions to the opening date several times. In July 2015, Al Shoula acknowledged problems with the construction of a 3km tunnel on the outskirts of Jeddah but even so it still expected to open the line by January 1 2017.

IRJ will publish a feature on the Haramain high-speed project in February. For more information on railway projects around subscribe to IRJ Pro.