Fire erupts at Saudi high-speed train station: authorities

Riyadh (AFP) –


A fire erupted on Sunday at a new high-speed train station in Saudi Arabia's western city of Jeddah, authorities said, with huge palls of smoke seen rising into the air.

The station is dedicated to the Haramain High Speed Rail system which opened to the public in October last year, transporting passengers between Mecca and Medina, Islam's holiest sites.

"The civil defence is putting out a fire that broke out at a station in Suleimaniya... no injuries have been recorded as of yet," the General Directorate of Saudi Civil Defence said on Twitter.

A video uploaded on Twitter by the Mecca provincial government showed plumes of grey smoke rising from what looked like the inside of the complex.

The blaze erupted at 12:35 pm local time (0935 GMT), according to the Haramain High Speed Rail's Twitter account.

The system is capable of transporting passengers 450 kilometres (280 miles) via the Red Sea port of Jeddah at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour.

Saudi King Salman inaugurated the railway in September 2018. Officials described it as the biggest transportation project in the region.

In 2011, the kingdom signed a deal for a Spanish consortium to build the rail track, supply 35 high-speed trains and handle a 12-year maintenance contract.

The kingdom is boosting its infrastructure spending and expanding its railways -- including a $22.5 billion metro system under construction in the capital Riyadh -- as it seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.