Photo: ahmad.faizal/Shutterstock

How to See Saudi Arabia by Rail

Saudi Arabia Train Travel Sustainability
by Morgane Croissant Sep 29, 2023

While everyone is busy looking at Saudi Arabia’s flashy plans for building NEOM, the region of the future, its revolution in the realm of public transportion has gone under the radar entirely. In 2018, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia inaugurated its first high-speed railway, with trains traveling between the two holy cities of Medina and Mecca at 186 miles per hour. The Haramain High-Speed Railway is now the third train line in the country, and if government announcements come to fruition, 4,971 more miles of railway will soon crisscross the country, allowing travelers to easily see its best and biggest attractions, whether that’s the largest mirrored building in the world, or a UNESCO World Heritage site that looks an awful lot like Petra.

Can you travel by train in Saudi Arabia?

There are currently three train lines running across Saudi Arabia:

  • The East Line that travels between Dammam and Riyadh. A trip on the East Line covers 279 miles and stops in two stations along the way: Hofuf and Buqayq.
  • The North Line that travels between Riyadh and Qurayyat. A trip on the North Line covers 1709 miles and stops in four stations along the way: Majmaah, Qassim, Hail, and Jauf.
  • The Haramain High-Speed Railway that travels between Medina and Mecca. A trip on the Haramain High-Speed Railway covers 280 miles and travels at just over 186 miles per hour. The train stops in three stations along the way: in Jeddah, at King Abdulaziz International Airport, and in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).

Can non-Muslims travel on the Haramain train?

The two holy cities of Medina and Mecca are forbidden to non-Muslims. However, the train station in Medina is located outside of the boundaries of the city, allowing non-Muslim travelers to board and alight the Haramain train there. The train station in Mecca is within the boundaries of the city, therefore non-Muslim travelers cannot board or alight the Haramain train at this station.

How much does the Haramain train cost?

Haramain train in Saudi Arabia

Photo: ahmad.faizal/Shutterstock

The ride between Medina and Mecca starts at $40 (150 SAR) for an Economy-class seat and $84 (315 SAR) for a Business-class seat. The price of the journey vary according to your dates of travel and the demand for that particular date. Note that booking your ticket online in advance is significantly cheaper than buying it at the ticket counter.

While Economy class and Business class are both very comfortable, Business-class seats are adjustable and have extra legroom. Business-class passengers can also enjoy individual video screens.

To learn more about discounts, fares, and change and cancellation fees, visit Haramain High-Speed Railway’s website.

How long does the Haramain Train take?

The train between Mecca and Medina takes between two hours and 15 minutes and two hours and 25 minutes to complete its journey. Not all trips between the two cities stop in the same stations: Some trains are direct, some have one stop, etc.

Note that it’s recommended to check in for your train journey at least 60 minutes before departure.

What time is the train from Mecca to Medina?

There are trains traveling between Mecca and Medina every hour, or twice per hour, every day, starting at 8 AM until late in the day. With so many journeys by train available between the two cities, you’re sure to find a time that suits your schedule. You can visualize the train timetable on Haramain High-Speed Railway’s website.

How much luggage is allowed on the Haramain train?

Travelers are allowed one suitcase and and one hand luggage per person. The suitcase cannot weigh more than 55 lbs (or 25 kg) and must measure a maximum of 25.5 x 21.6 x 13.7 inches (65 x 55 x 35 cm). The luggage restriction is strictly enforced and you will not be able to board the train with an oversized piece of luggage. Instead, your luggage will be shipped to your destination, at your cost.

Is there food on the Haramain train? Is outside food allowed on the train?

Passengers are not allowed to take their own food on the train, but there is a cafeteria on board serving hot and cold beverages, as well as hot and cold snacks, sandwiches, and appetizers.

Passengers can bring packaged food in their suitcasesif they don’t intend to eat it on the train.

If you booked a Business-class seat, you will have access to the business lounge where food and drinks are complimentary.

How to buy tickets for the Haramain train?

Booking your ticket online (via the mobile app or on the Haramain High-Speed Railway’s website) is the best way to get a good price. It is not recommended to buy your ticket last minute at the counter. Reports of high prices and poor customer service make it clear that you should avoid it altogether.

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