The Turkish government has announced the beginning of work on a plan to restore the Hijaz raliway line built during the Ottoman era in the early 20th century which links Istanbul in Turkey to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Official Turkish media outlets reported that the plan begins with preparations of the Hijaz railway route in Turkey, Syria, and Jordan. The plan includes the launch of a high-speed train linking Istanbul and Mecca, reducing the distance between the two cities to 24 hours over a 2,200-kilometer railway.
The media reports noted that the train’s route will start in Istanbul and run via the Turkish cities of Adana and Othmaneya, before passing through Jordan with Medina as the train’s final destination.
The Turkish Railway General Manager, Soliman Kraman, expects the high-speed train to make its first trip in four years’ time, adding that it would carry more than two million passengers every year to the Holy Land for Hajj and Umrah, in addition to its role in enhancing trade between the countries in the region.
The Ottoman Sultan, Abdul Hameed II, approved the plan to build the railway in 1900. The train was launched eight years later, but it was damaged during World War I, and its construction was interrupted.