Traveling in Haramain High Speed Train to Makkah and Madinah? What to Expect? (Part 1)

In this blog, we will cover some of the important points if you are taking the Haramain High-Speed train in Saudi Arabia to travel to Makkah, Madinah or Jeddah Airport.

Booking Experience

Needs Little Love! You can book your train tickets online in advance at www.sar.hhr.sa As we all know, no systems are perfect. We encountered different errors and made 4 attempts before successfully completing the booking. Passengers can also book their tickets at the train station booking office. Be prepared to stand in line with patience until your number is called.

If you have booked the tickets online, make sure to take the printout of your train tickets containing the QR code, which will make your boarding easier. Otherwise, you have to go to the train station booking office and wait in line to get the printout.

Seats — Economy and Business Class

Awesome! It has two different types of coaches — economy and business class. Both are super comfortable and spacious. It’s a matter of personal choice. The only difference is that the business class is served with a free sandwich. The food (sandwich) is not that great. The cafeteria is located on the 5th coach of every train. The economy passengers can buy the food. The food is a little expensive, and you can feel a little pinch for the money. It needs a little love to make it better.

Train Speed

Loved it! The train reaches a speed of 300 km/hr (equivalent to 186 mph). And at times, you will feel your ear popping. We would recommend that you carry earplugs for sensitivity. The train departs on time and hence it stays super punctual to arrive on-time to its destination.

Cleanliness

Full Marks! Fantastic. We took the haramain train couple of times on different routes and found it to be very clean, with proper light and super punctual. The coaches are connected to each other so the passengers can pass through one coach to another.

Baggage

Oouch Oouch! The online train ticket booking platform will make you aware of the baggage terms and conditions. It will not proceed to the next page until you click on “I understand”. Let’s take a closer look at some of the fine details.

Each passengers are allowed to carry one travel bag and one handbag. The size of the travel bag is Height = 65cm (25.5inch), Length = 55cm (21.6inch), Width = 35cm (13.7inch), and Weight = 25kg max (55lb). There is a list of prohibited items that you cannot carry on the train.

Every passenger has to push their own bags. It is not like an airport where you give (checked-in) your bag at the ticket counter, and then you get to your destination on the baggage belt. All your baggage stays with you (period). A trolley and helper are available for a fee.

https://sar.hhr.sa/web/portal/travel/guidelines/baggage#

If you are coming from international flights, the checked bags that you have are going to be bigger in size than their specification size. If your bag does not fit their specification size, then you can not carry the bag with you on the train. They have provided a facility where you can ship your bag using a third-party service for a fee of 69 SAR per bag. The bag comes separately from your scheduled train. This means you have to come over to the train station to pick up your bags after 3–6 hours.

https://sar.hhr.sa/web/portal/travel/guidelines/baggage#

Let’s look at a reputed baggage company (below screenshot) to understand the sizing (https://shop.samsonite.com/luggage/checked-luggage/). Baggage up to size 23" is considered CarryOn. Medium bags start at 24" and go up to 27". The haramain train has a required bag size of no more than 25.5". It is very obvious that passengers traveling from abroad will not meet their baggage sizing requirements.

Checked Bags Size at Samsonite

We recommend that you do your homework and follow their rules. Otherwise, this will ruin your trip, cause you to lose money, and create more problems, especially if you are traveling with the kids or senior citizens.

Let’s get a little serious here; we were 3 passengers with 1 medium size checked bag and 2 Carry-On. The medium size was 2" bigger than their specification. We had senior citizens, so we arrived early at the train station (1 hour and 30 mins before departure). We took a helper to assist us with unloading the bags. The official fee for the helper was 17 SAR (paid to Ground Handling Logistics for Trading and Contracting Company). When the boarding was called, we went to the gate to check. in. There were a few agents standing at the gate that didn’t allow us to check in because of the baggage size. The gate agent asked us to get the bag checked by a third party and send it separately. The medium size was 2" bigger than their specification. We came back to the gate and they just didn’t allow us to pass through. They made us go back and forth 4 times. And I finally requested to talk with their supervisor (I think her name was Asma Meer). The whole process is very complex, and gate agents are very stubborn. They don’t have empathy. Because of this whole course, I was about to miss my train. I have to make the senior citizens (who already have asthma conditions) run to catch the train.

When I was talking with the supervisor, another elderly passenger came to her complaining that they were stopped because they had medical devices in their bodies. Their train was about to leave in 5 minutes. This is ridiculous. People are traveling 4000 miles, changing 3–4 planes, and reaching there to see and experience all these. I was very disappointed with the whole experience.

Other Stories

Traveling in Haramainn Train to Makkah and Madinah? What to Expect? (Part 2)

My Struggle with the Booking Process for 2024 Nusuk Hajj (1445 Hajj)

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Aakif Shaikh, CISSP, CEH, CHFI, CISA, GWAPT

Over 18 years of experience in a wide variety of technical domains within information security including information assurance, compliance, and risk management.