he Holy Makkah Municipality, city council of the Holy City of Makkah, is pushing ahead with its plans to develop a new urban mass rail transit system for the city. Makkah faces significant congestion and transportation challenges. It is the focal point of the Hajj, the Islamic Pilgrimage, which attracts millions of visitors to the city every year.
The city’s own population is also growing rapidly and is estimated to double to 3 million by 2035. Urban development is further restricted by Makkah’s topography, with several significant hills constricting movement to key corridors. The Makkah Mass Rail Transit project (MMRT) is a key aspect of the Municipality’s strategy to address these growth challenges and the current public transport deficit.
MMRT project will involve the construction of four new rail lines. The lines will be constructed in Stages.
Stage 1 will include the construction of sections of Lines “B” and “C”. Line “B” section will be 10 km long, with 6 new stations and will mainly be underground. It will be an extension of the existing Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah rail line, serving the holy shrines of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, and connects to the new Haramain High-Speed rail station West of Makkah city. Line “C” section will be 29 kilometres long with 14 new stations, and will be constructed in a combination of tunnels and viaducts.
The other two Lines, “A” and “D”, will be constructed in future stages.
AlBalad AlAmeen Company (BAC), who is the Municipality’s development arm, is leading the MMRT development. BAC has appointed an advisory team of Ernst & Young, Ashurst and Parsons Brinckerhoff, and is working with its advisors to develop the procurement packages for the Stage 1 system, including rail infrastructure, railway systems, rolling stock, depot and operations.
The contracting structures are under finalisation, but it is expected that Stage 1 will be split into several procurement packages. PPP contracts are preferred for some or all of the packages.
Dr Saad A Al-Gadhi, BAC’s project director for the MMRT, said that the project’s development was fundamental to the transition from the existing inefficient, private transport system to an integrated modern public-transport network that will benefit the Holy City.
BAC will shortly hold a market-sounding exercise with selected market participants. Expressions of interest for Stage 1 are anticipated in the latter third of 2011/AH 1432.
Stage 1 construction is due to commence in 2013/AH 1434 with service commencement due in 2017/AH 1438.
Also in Saudi Arabia today, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new guide to Mecca.
City.Mobi offers the most comprehensive mobile travel guides available, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed. Each is developed by the City.Mobi team to combine into a single global travel directory.
Mecca.mobi is the latest in this illustrious line up, offering click to call functionality – which means no scribbling down telephone numbers.
Most entries are also linked to websites where users can quickly access more detailed information if needed.
Other key features include information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, and transport.
City.Mobi guides include user reviews and traveller utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide.