Saudi Arabia: the Revival of Hejaz Railway

The Royal Commission for the Development of Al-Ula (RCU), a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance located in northwestern Saudi Arabia, is planning to build a 50km-long tram-train line that will link the ancient city of Al-Ula with archaeological sites. parks and tourist areas of the Hijaz region. 

The design of the rolling stock on this line will be reminiscent of the trains used on the railway built in the early 20th century. to make it easier for Muslims around the world to perform the Hajj to the Muslim holy city of Mecca. 

The project is being implemented as part of a program to reduce dependency on road transport through the development of a network of tram lines, an electric bus fleet, bicycle routes and alternative modes of transport. 

The first phase involves the construction of a 21 km, 15-stop line from the historic station on the former Hejaz Railway in Al-Ula northward to the ancient city of Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At each stop, it is planned to arrange rental points for electric bicycles and electric vehicles.

The second phase of the project will include a 33 km long line leading south to the international airport. 

RCU has selected SYSTRA as the lead design consultant for this project, which is expected to submit preliminary and detailed design results in 2023. The 50 km/h tram-train system line is intended to be a modern interpretation of the historic 1050 mm gauge Hejaz Railway that ran through Al-Ula on the route between Damascus and Medina, and reflect Al-Ula’s current role as a stopover for pilgrims and the largest center of world tourism (photo: SYSTRA).


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