The AVE between Medina and Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, the most emblematic work of the so-called Spain brand, will finally start on Thursday, October 11th. After several delays, innumerable technical tests and an official inauguration only for the monarch and the Saudi authorities last September 25, pilgrims and ordinary travelers can begin to climb the also called AVE of the desert at its commercial premiere.
The prices are 150 Saudi Riyals in economy class (around 35 euros) and 250 ryales in class business (58 euros), although users may benefit from a promotional campaign during the next two months by which they can make seat reservations for the entire route between Mecca and Medina with a discount of 50%, ie they will only pay 17.5 euros and 27.5 euros, depending on the class they choose.
Haramain High Speed Railway, the Spanish-speaking consortium in charge of the project, will also incorporate a system of flexible fares designed to adapt prices to the needs of demand, including the periods of greatest influx of passengers and pilgrimages.
A premiere with limitations
The commercial premiere occurs today with serious limitations. Tickets can not be bought online yet and must be done over the phone or at stations. The trains will circulate at the moment to a maximum of 200 kilometers per hour, instead of the predicted 300 km / h, will only be offered eight daily trips between Mecca and Medina during four days a week (Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays ) and will stop at two of the five stations that the line has, that of Jeddah and that of Kaec, the economic city.
We will have to wait until September 2019, so that the commercial service is at full capacity
We will have to wait until September 2019 for the commercial service to be at full capacity, with 12 circulations every day of the week and at the maximum speed of 300 kilometers per hour for which it is designed.
The travel time in this initial phase for the complete route of the 450 kilometers between Medina and Mecca will be over three hours, with a consolidated speed of 200 kilometers per hour in 75% of the route. Once the high-speed rail line is fully operational trains will cover the entire route in a total duration of two and a half hours with all stops, although there will be trips in two hours and ten minutes.
Mismatch in cost
The project was awarded for a total of 6,736 million euros in October 2011, in what became the largest contract of a Spanish consortium. The initial contract provided for commercial circulation at full capacity at the beginning of 2017, but there were two delays not attributable to the Spanish consortium, which were settled with economic compensation agreements with the state group Saudi Railways Organization (SRO), contractor of the work. If these additional provisions are included, the current contract amount is close to 7,100 million euros
After several partial tests, the train traveled for the first time the 450 kilometers that cover the line on December 31. The tests counted up to the month of July with the assistance of more than 15,880 passengers invited by the Saudi authorities in 111 services, in the so-called demonstration phase (Service Demonstration). On September 25, coinciding with the celebrations of the national day of Saudi Arabia, King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, inaugurated the line at a ceremony held in the city of Jeddah, without any presence of authorities. Spanish
The Spanish Government will not be in the long term
At the opening of commercial trains this Thursday there will be no representative of the Spanish Government. He will be the president of the Spanish High Speed Consortium Meca Medina (CEAVMM), Jorge Segrelles; the president of Renfe, Isaías Táboas, and the president of SRO, Rumaih Mohammed Al-Rumaih.
The model that will cover the line is Talgo 350 Haramain that has specific technologies to adapt it to high temperatures and desert sand. The fleet of 35 Talgo 350 SRO trains, whose manufacture has been completed in its entirety, has been adapted to the extreme weather and the geographical peculiarities of one of the most hostile environments on the planet. The train systems have been reinforced with the so-called "pack of the desert ", which incorporates more than 30 additional technologies specifically developed to overcome the harsh desert conditions of Saudi Arabia. For the development of these solutions against sand and dust in suspension, high temperatures and storms, industries such as the military (land and air) or the renewable energy sector have been analyzed, according to Talgo.
Adif will be responsible for the operation and operation of the stations, while Renfe will handle the operation of the line. The Spanish consortium consists of twelve Spanish companies -Adif, Cobra, Consultrans, Copasa, Dimetronic, Imathia, Inabensa, Ineco, Indra, OHL, Renfe and Talgo- and the Saudis Al Shoula and Al Rosan.