Haramain High-Speed Rail opens to the public

The Haramain High Speed Train has begun commercial operations between the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah

This iconic new infrastructure project establishes a vital cultural and commercial connection across Saudi Arabia, which will transport tens of millions passengers annually and ease traffic congestion for Muslim pilgrims.

Establishing vital cultural and commercial connections across Saudi Arabia with the Haramain High-Speed Rail network. Image: Foster + Partners

Buro Happold worked in joint venture with Foster + Partners to design and deliver this major new infrastructure route. Services provided by Buro Happold included: Structural engineering, infrastructure and civil engineering, geotechnical engineering, building services engineering, facade engineering, bridge engineering, acoustic advice, transport planning, access consultancy, environmental and sustainability consultancy, security, IT and communications, waste management, and people flow analysis.

One of the key challenges our experts were faced was an incredibly fast paced design process. An intelligent, modular, approach was adopted which created an efficient design language across the stations, while also allowing enough flexibility to achieve a distinct visual character in each. Each station on the Haramain High-Speed Rail line combines inspirational architecture with the ability to deliver a world class experience for the passengers that will pass through them.

When it came to developing a modular building services strategy, we created ‘families’ that could be adapted to suit both the hot and humid climate of coastal Jeddah and KAEC, and the arid conditions of inland Mecca and Medina. This allowed us to use the same elements – such as shading louvers and chillers – across all four stations, and simply increase or decrease their number according to requirements.
Phil Lines, UK Building Environments Regional Director

Our consultancy across a wide variety of areas helped deliver improvements for the project. For example, advising our client to open the platforms just 10 minutes before each train is due, enabled us to revise the architect’s original concept of glazed station platforms to the far more cost effective solution of covering them with a lightweight, tensile fabric canopy. This negated the extensive cooling, and expense, that would have been required to keep the platforms at an acceptable temperature in the searing 40°c heat of the Saudi climate, by instead providing adequate shade for passengers on the platforms.

We developed elegant and efficient modular designs, which include structural trees that support the roof while also providing a conduit for MEP and stormwater drainage.
Image: Foster + Partners

A fleet of 35 new high speed train will transport passengers  across the 450 km (280 miles) via the Red Sea port city of Jeddah at speeds of up to 300km/h (186mph). Mecca’s station, about 4km (2.5 miles) from the Grand Mosque, will be able to handle as many as 20,000 passengers per hour.

Find out more about our involvement in this project here.

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