Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro

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Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro
Native name قطار المشاعر المقدسة
Locale Eastern Mecca
Transit type Rapid transit
Number of lines 1
Number of stations 9
Began operation November 13, 2010[1]
Character Elevated
Number of vehicles 17[2]
Train length 12-car trains[2]
System length 18.1 km (11.2 mi)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 25 kV, 50 Hz AC
Overhead catenary
System map
Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro map

The Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro (Arabic: قطار المشاعر المقدسة‎) is a metro line in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It was opened on November 13, 2010,[1] in time for the Hajj 1431 between November 25–29, 2010.[2] Claimed to have the highest capacity of any metro in the world, it transports pilgrims between holy sites in Mecca, Mount Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina to reduce congestion caused by buses and cars during the Hajj. Although the metro uses conventional steel wheel on rail technology, it is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a 'monorail'.[3]


Congestion in Mecca Metro Arafat area, November 2012

The Saudis estimate the line will replace 53,000 buses, promising a safer, more comfortable pilgrimage.[4] By the time of the 2011 Hajj (Hajj 1432) it was able to operate at 100% capacity and is estimated to have carried more that 3.95 million passengers[5] making it, for that period, the most intensively used metro line in the world and among the busiest systems in the world. Each 12 car train carries 3,000 passengers and the headway is 150 seconds (24 trains per hour).[Note 1]

In peak periods the line operates with a special `group shuttle' schedule with three departure stations and three arrival stations. (At each holy site on the line there are three stations.) At off-peak times stopping-all-stations service is run.[5]

Construction history[edit]

The line was claimed to be the world's fastest design, build to operate metro in the world, at 22 months. It was initially operated at 35% capacity with automatic train protection to assist manual driving.[6]

China Railway Construction Corp was responsible for infrastructure construction and systems integration under the 6.7 billion riyal phase I contract which was awarded by the Saudi Arabian government in February 2009 following a visit by President Hu Jintao of China.[7]

CRCC carried out construction of the project infrastructure and integrated and subcontracted various systems. The line was built in only 21 months by about 8,000 skilled and unskilled workers and approximately 5,000 engineers.

Several subcontracts were awarded. Al-Muruj Electromechanical Co. was awarded MEP works at all 9 stations. Siemens provided the Overhead Line Catenary System supplied at 1500 V DC.Westinghouse Platform Screen Doors supplied the platform screen doors,[2][8] Siemens power supplies, and WS Atkins is responsible for electrical and mechanical systems and project management.[6] Thales supplied SelTrac Communications-Based Train Control, an operations control centre, CCTV, SCADA and passenger information systems.[6] Systra supervised the civil work.[6] Serco provides operations and maintenance consultancy. TÜV Rheinland were the Independent Competent Person (ICP)on the project and provided Safety, Operations, Training, Fire and Systems Assurance consultancy support including the development of System-Wide, O&M Safety Case and HSQE Management Systems. TUV Rheinland also secured the Operating License & Safety Certificate for acceptance by the Saudi Railway Commission (SRC) in 2011, 2012 & 2013. Air Conditioning solution was provided by SKM Sharjah, UAE.

The line is elevated at a height varying between 8 metres (26 ft) and 10 metres (33 ft).[3][6]

CRCC losses on contract[edit]

In November 2010 CRCC claimed they had lost 4.15 billion yuan (~US$ 600 million) on the US$ 1.77 billion contract due to changes insisted on by the client.[9] The earth works alone reportedly increased two-and-a-half times from 2 million cubic metres to 5 million.[10] CRCC was seeking, with Chinese government support, extra compensation from the Saudi Arabian government to help cover the losses.

Rolling stock[edit]

On 4 April 2009 Changchun Railway Vehicles was awarded a contract to supply 17 Type A 12-car metro trainsets.[6] Each set has eight motor and four trailer cars, all with aluminum bodies. A Type A car is 22.3 metres long and 3 metres wide.[11] Knorr-Bremse supplied the braking systems[8] with modifications to suit sandy conditions.[2]

The first trainset was shipped from China in May 2010 and the last arrived by the end of 2010.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The CRCC website says the trains have a capacity of 3,000 passengers (250 cars x 12 car trains) ( but the analysis of the 2011 Hajj cites a figure of 3,600 passengers per train (12 x 300) and 30 trains per hour (120 second headway) ( It is designed to transport 72,000 passengers per hour per direction (PPHPD).


  1. ^ a b "Hajj pilgrims take the metro to Makkah". Railway Gazette International. November 15, 2010. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Hajj trains shipped to Makkah". Railway Gazette International. May 18, 2010. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  3. ^ a b "China to build Mecca monorail". Straits Times (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE). February 12, 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-27. [dead link]
  4. ^ Barry, Keith (September 8, 2009). "Take the Monorail to Mecca". Wired. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  5. ^ a b "Operation during Hajj season 1432H (2011 G)". 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Makkah metro contracts signed". Railway Gazette International. June 24, 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  7. ^ "World rail market March 2009". Railway Gazette International. March 8, 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  8. ^ a b "Knorr-Bremse in Mecca". Railways Africa. July 3, 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  9. ^ An Yang (November 17, 2010). "China to Help CRCC Claim Loss on Mecca Metro Project". CaixinOnline. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  10. ^ John Garnaut (November 16, 2010). "China Inc goes off the rails in Saudi Arabia while building Mecca monorail". The Sydney Morning Herald . Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  11. ^ Sharon Lee (May 11, 2009). "CSR Zhuzhou: A Contract of 150 Metro Vehicles Valued RMB 1.1 Billion". Retrieved 2010-02-27.