Al Mashaer Train saudi hajj
More than 29,000 passengers used Al Mashaer Train on the first day of operation this year. Image Credit: SPA

Cairo: A seasonal rail service shuttling between the holy places in Saudi Arabia transported more than 2.2 million passengers during the just-ended Hajj pilgrimage, up 100,000 against last year, according to figures from the operator.

The Al Mashaer Train operated 2,206 journeys over seven days starting from the 7th of the current and final Islamic lunar month of Dhul Hijjah when the annual Hajj takes places, the Saudi Arabia Railways (SAR) said.

More than 29,000 passengers used the train on the first day of operation this year. The service, operating along nine stations, made its debut in November 2010.

Some 1.8 million pilgrims, including 1.6 million from abroad, performed this year’s Hajj in and around the Saudi holy city of Mecca, according to official figures.

With a fleet of 17 trains, the environmentally friendly service links Mecca to other holy sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina. The final station of the service lies near the Jamarat Bridge in Mina where pilgrims annually perform the symbolic rite of stoning the devil.

The 18-kilometre line has three stations in Arafat, where the pinnacle of the Hajj is marked, three others in Muzdalifah and three more in the valley of Mina. The Arafat-Mina journey takes nearly 20 minutes.

The electric train has a capacity of transporting 72,000 people per hour. Its operation has taken nearly 50,000 passenger buses off the road, the Saudi news agency SPA reported.