18 November, 2010

Green: the Makkah Metro

The Hajj, one of the greatest rituals that any Muslim would ever perform - is right now in process. It involves millions of people; people who have to be moved,  sheltered and catered for. From its inception, both pilgrims and non-pilgrims are prohibited from killing game and cutting native vegetation in and around Makkah al Mukarramah; now the Hajj has gone greener.

The Makkah metro has began a test run and is expected to reduce traffic at the Holy Sites by about 30,000 cars and will replace thousands of buses that shuttle pilgrims between the Holy Sites, hence reducing pollution as well as traffic congestion; this will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the Hajj. There are also plans underway, to make Madinah Al Munawwarah - one of the most ecologically and environmentally friendly cities in the world.

The Makkah Metro, officially known as the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro, will be an 18.1 km./11.2 miles - elevated system and will service three main areas: Arafat, Muzdalifa and Meena; each with three substations. It is operational, with a test run - from this month; operating at 35 per cent capacity initially, with automatic train protection to assist manual driving. The fully automated system is scheduled to be introduced in mid-2011. Once complete, the system will have the capacity to move 72,000 passengers per hour in each direction. The metro line is expected to reduce vehicular traffic around the Al Haramain Al Sharifain, by as much as 50 per cent. The line may be extended later to Al Masjid al Haram and is the first of a proposed five-line network which will connect the area to Jeddah Airport and the planned Saudi Arabian national rail network.

+ More on the Metro: here, here, here, here, here and here