In order to complete the rituals of the Hajj, pilgrims are required to move between several locations in the vicinity of Makkah al-Mukarramah, including the Holy Mosque itself, Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, within a precise temporal and geographical framework. The means of transporting pilgrims between these sites have changed along with the changing times.
In modern times, buses have played an important role in pilgrim transportation. Because they have been the primary means of transportation for pilgrims, certain problems have arisen. These problems include such negative aspects as traffic congestion, long periods of waiting required for transfer between sites, and an increase in levels of environmental pollution, all of which have necessitated turning to more modern and efficient means of transportation between the sacred sites.
The Sacred Sites Train
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz ordered the construction of the sacred sites train network in order to assist in the transport of pilgrims between the sacred sites and thereby reduce the problem of traffic jams and all other negative aspects which accompany them.
At the present time, the train connects Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat. Its primary aim is to
lessen dependence on buses to move pilgrims between the sacred sites. It is expected that the train will replace 30,000 buses and will contribute greatly to increasing the safety level of pilgrim movement while also transporting large numbers of pilgrims within a short time frame as compared to traditional methods of transport. This will also contribute to a smoother flow of traffic for those buses that remain in service.
The train travels between nine main stations in Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, beginning with three stations in Arafat, followed by three stations in Muzdalifah, and finishing with final three stations in Mina.
The first of the three stations in Mina is located at the beginning of the sacred site coming from Muzdalifah, while the second station is situated in central Mina, and the third and final station is located near the fourth floor of the Jamarat Bridge building in Mina.
The sacred sites train allows easy access and departure and moves at high speed on a route readily accessible to pilgrims. The train operates on an elevated double track and takes into account the local geography, avoiding wadis and floodplains. Every elevated station is equipped with two waiting areas for pilgrims, each of which has a maximum capacity of 3000 people; while a further waiting area has been provided at ground level to assist in organizing passengers.
All waiting areas are equipped with safety measures as well as climate control.
In summary, the sacred sits train is an outstanding achievement in the history of Hajj transportation where it is possible to transport half a million pilgrims in only six hours which makes it the highest capacity train in the world. This is another example of the services which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia offers to the pilgrims from across the globe.