All aboard! All aboard! The wait is finally over and the Haramain High-Speed Rail (HHR) is now open to the public with hopes of making travel between the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah easier for those performing Hajj or Umrah. The project construction began in March 2009 and was officially inaugurated on 25 September 2018 and opened to the public on 11 October 2018. It is the first high-speed train in the Middle East, designed to transport you in comfort between the two holy cities and beyond at speeds that exceed 300km/h. The project has goals of transporting 60 million passengers a year on a fleet of 35 trains with a seating capacity of 417 passengers per train through two seating classes, 113 Business class seats, and 308 Economy class seats.
The launch to the public has been marked with a 50% discount for two months commencing 11th October 2018. It is currently operating a limited service, on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with plans to eventually extend it to a daily, more frequent service.
The service has been designed with affordability in mind. Fares range from 40SR to 150SR within Economy class. Trains between Makkah and Madinah are 150SR, between Jeddah and Madinah are 125SR and between Jeddah and Makkah are 40SR. These fares are one way, exclusive of VAT and for the initial launch period of 2 months will be discounted by 50%, so for example, Makkah to Madinah will be reduced from 150SR to 75SR. Tickets can be booked via the official Haramain High-Speed Railway website (www.hhr.sa), the official iOS and Android apps, via kiosks at the train stations and through their telephone service. To make reservations you will need a copy of your passport or iqama, for both online and in person at the train stations. For group reservations, such as for Hajj or Umrah groups, reservations must be made a month in advance and passport copies will be required.
Currently, services from Makkah to Madinah or Madinah to Makkah, both via Jeddah, run four times each operating day (Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun). From Makkah, the service departs at 0800, 1000, 1230 and 1700 and services from Madinah depart at 0800, 1230, 1430 and 1700. Between Makkah and Madinah the journey times are 3 hours and 5 mins (approx. 450km), between Makkah and Jeddah it is 43 mins (approx. 78km) and between Jeddah and Madinah, it is 2 hours and 19 mins. Please also factor in the time it takes to and from the train station as well as security checks at the station.
Onboard passengers may take one piece of hand luggage and one additional piece limited to 25kg with size restrictions (L65cm x H55cm x W35cm). Food and beverages are not permitted on board the train. For full terms and conditions please view on the official website listed above.
Dar El Salam Travel (DST) and the Haramain High-Speed Railway (HHR)
We think this is a great addition to the Saudi infrastructure and are hopeful that it will ease congestion and enhance the experience for pilgrims who come for Hajj and Umrah for years to come. Whilst HHR is operating a limited service of Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and only 4 scheduled departures each day, this means that the service is only useful to those wanting to depart on those days and times and their programs and hotel bookings are reserved accordingly. Of course, with an increased schedule it is more likely to suit the schedules of more people and become more convenient.
We always want to ensure that our customers make an informed decision that would enhance their experience when going for Umrah, we have therefore compiled the table below detailing an example journey between Makkah and Madinah and journey times for you to compare.
From the comparison table above you can see that traveling by train isn’t necessarily time-saving, however, for some pilgrims, it may be more convenient and a nice way to travel and the option along with all the other options is available.
We at Dar El Salam are planning on offering packages with and without the high-speed train service starting 2019 – for more information about this, please contact one of our agents who would be more than happy to help. Please note that although care has been taken to ensure that the information is as accurate as possible, the service is still in a ‘soft-launch’ phase and there does seem to be some discrepancies in the information provided. We will provide up to date information as and when we acquire it.
Whichever mode of transport you choose, we are here to help and ensure safe and smooth transfers between the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
Bon Voyage! 😊
Dar El Salam Management