Haramain High Speed Rail Project: Wikis

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Haramain High Speed Rail Project (also known as the "Western Railway") is a planned high speed railway in western Saudi Arabia. The line will connect Mecca, Jeddah, King Abdul Aziz International Airport and Medina, a distance of approximately 444 km.[1] Speeds are expected to be up to 320 km/h, giving a 4 hour journey time between Medina and Jeddah and 30 minutes for the 72 km from Jeddah to Mecca.[2] The railway is expected to considerably ease transport problems during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

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Construction

The Kingdom has signed an SAR6.79 billion agreement with Al-Rajhi Alliance to implement the first phase of the Haramain Railway project that will link the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah with Jeddah by rail.

The first phase of the project will include preparing the ground, constructing bridges, culverts and tunnels for laying track. Four of the stations on the route will be designed by Foster and Partners and Buro Happold[3]

Abdul Aziz Al-Hoqail, president of SRO, said the project would be completed by the middle of 2012 and pilot operations on the track would be conducted for a period of six months until its official launch in November the same year.

The second phase will include, track laying, electrification, power supply, installing communication and signaling systems and deploying rolling stock.

Progress

A tender for five train stations will take place in the third or fourth quarter of 2009, according to Al-Rajhi Alliance.

Criticisms

The Haramain Project has drawn sharp criticisms from Muslims around the world who began a petition demanding that the Saudi Arabian government cancel the contract with Alstom for its role in the Jerusalem Light Rail Project. The petition states that that "The Saudi contract sends a signal of approval for Alstom's actions in Jerusalem and highlights the lack of integrity of the Haramain project: the Saudi Arabian government has chosen to link two of Islam's holiest cities by sponsoring the colonization of another."

Alstom is part of the consortium to build a light rail in Jerusalem that also passes through East Jerusalem, which is not considered Israeli territory by the United Nations. French company Alstom and its partner Veolia, are accused of being complicit in Israel's alleged violation of international law for support building in East Jerusalem. Activists have begun a divestment campaign targeting the two companies, succeeding in getting Dutch ASN Bank to divest from the project.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has requested the Saudi Arabian government to cancel the contract with Alstom, alleging its own commitments under the Arab League. Pressure so far has been mild for fear of upsetting the Saudis, key supporters of the PLO.[4] Parallel to these efforts, court proceedings have begun in Paris to hold the two companies accountable for their involvement in the project.[5]

The Saudi Arabian government has so far shown unresponsive to any external pressure and the project is advertised to be going ahead as planned.[6]

External links

References

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