The AVE to Mecca, which provides services between the cities of Mecca and Medina, has exceeded 5.6 million passengers since it was launched in March 2021. In this period, according to Renfe, which is the infrastructure operator that is managed by a Spanish consortium, up to 23,500 services have been carried out.
The Spanish public company has released these data coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the start of the high-speed network tests, which began on December 31, 2017. From that moment, until the commercial inauguration, 111 services for almost 16,000 passengers invited by the Saudis.
After the testing phase, commercial operation began partially on October 11, 2018 and all benefits were incorporated on March 31, 2021, beginning the twelve-year term (extendable to 17) contracted by the Saudi government. .
At this moment, the service offers the largest range of connections since it began to operate, more than 80 daily services in peak periods and 23,500 trains that have covered more than 7 million kilometres. The punctuality of the trains, according to Renfe, is 97.5%.
Reactivation after the covid
Last year was a relevant year for the service, as it was marked by the reactivation of demand after the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the suspension of operations for more than a year, from April 2020 to March 2021. ; which affected the opening of the infrastructure.
Since then, the number of passengers has followed an upward trend that has already allowed the service to exceed 500,000 passengers per month. Double composition changes and special Ramadan and Hajj services have been incorporated to meet mobility needs during the dates of the highest expected influx of pilgrims between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
The Spanish Meca-Medina High Speed Consortium has been developing the contract for the execution of the second phase of the high-speed project since 2012, which includes the construction, operation and maintenance for 12 years (extendable to 17) of the first high-speed line of the first high-speed line in the Middle East.
With a length of 453 kilometers, this project comprises five stations: Mecca, Jeddah, KAIA (Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport), KAEC (King Abdullah Economic City) and Medina.