The new line, being constructed since 2009 and expected to be operational late next year, will ferry millions of pilgrims on the 444-km journey between the two cities at speeds of 200 mph (320 km per hour).
“This is a prestigious project which will see the two holy cities being linked by rail for the first time. We are delighted to be contributing to this line which will have to overcome some major challenges across some of the most extreme terrain in the world,” said Tata Steel’s rail sector chief Gerard Glas.
The steel for the project will be made at Tata Steel’s Scunthorpe plant in England before being rolled into rails in lengths of 25 metres at the same plant and also in Hayange in the north of France. Work on producing the rail will start at the end of this year and is expected to continue throughout 2014.
Running across the challenging desert terrain, the railway line will have to withstand temperatures ranging from freezing to 50 degrees Celsius, besides sandstorms, flash floods and shifting dunes. Gerard Glas, rail sector head for Tata Steel, said: “This is a prestigious project which will see the holy cities being linked by rail for the first time.
“Tata Steel is delighted to be contributing to this high-speed line, which will have to overcome some major challenges presented by building a high-capacity rail line across some of the most extreme terrain in the world”, he said.
Constructed at a cost of an estimated Euros 12 billion, the railway will carry around 160,000 passengers daily, and many more during the annual Haj pilgrimage, on a fleet of 35 trains.
Tata Steel rail has already been used successfully in similarly challenging conditions for projects in Brazil and Mauritania.
Last year, the Saudi Railways Organisation awarded the contract for the final phase of completing, running and maintaining the Haramain High Speed Rail Project to a Spanish consortium of Copasa, Imathia and OHL.
Haramain implies “two holy places” in Arabic, while Makkah is the place where the Holy Quran was revealed and Madina is the birthplace of Prophet Mohammed.
En route, the trains will halt at Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City.
Tata Steel has already implemented similar projects in Brazil and Mauritania.
Spanish construction companies — Copasa, Imathia and OHL — are responsible for building the line’s superstructure and the track bases, as well as for the line’s mechanisms.
The European operations of Tata Steel comprise Europe’s second largest steel producer. With the main steelmaking operations in the UK and Netherlands, they supply steel and related services to the construction, automotive, packaging, lifting and excavating, energy and power, aerospace and other demanding markets worldwide.
The combined Tata Steel group remains one of the world’s largest steel producers, with an aggregate crude steel capacity of more than 28 million tons and approximately 80,000 employees across four continents.