Islamabad: Nearly half a million pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia since July 14 ahead of Haj season which is set to begin in mid-August.

It is an increase of about 7 per cent over their number the same period last year.

The Makkah Development Authority has distributed more than 2 million awareness leaflets in nine languages on how to use the Mashaer Train and how to reach the Jamarat area easily.

The company operating the Haramain Express Train announced that it has stopped the free test runs and will officially launch the commercial service in September.

It said the train will transport pilgrims from Makkah to Madinah and back via Jeddah.