ERL sends staff for two-month secondment to Makkah Metro in Saudi Arabia.
Kuala Lumpur, 14th June 2019 – In a bid to extend its rail expertise globally, Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL) will continue supporting the Al Mashaaer Al Muqadassah Metro – or Makkah Metro – during the Hajj season.
This time around, 28 staff from ERL as well as ERL Maintenance Support Sdn Bhd (E-MAS) staff will hold numerous positions for about two months starting June. Among the roles are Deputy Station Manager, Station Master, Assistant Station Master and Station Control Room Agent.
This year’s secondment marks the eighth year that ERL has been seconding staff for the rail system that runs only seven days every year.
“Including this year’s secondment, we can say around 80 ERL and E-MAS staff have contributed to the smooth running of the Makkah Metro from 2012,” said ERL Chief Executive Officer, Noormah Mohd Noor.
She further explained that this secondment offers invaluable experience for the staff. “This gives them the opportunity to gain new and unique experiences, especially in a situation that has a strong call for mass transportation. In the operations, each pilgrim must be transported into and out of Arafat within six to eight hours.
“This exposure to crowd control, station management and train operations on a massive scale will not only help them to develop their interpersonal skills, but hone and develop new management skills as their job requires them to coordinate and communicate with all levels of operation staff from various nationalities,” Noormah added.
The Makkah Metro in Saudi Arabia has been in operation for the past nine years and efficiently transports millions of pilgrims who travel to Makkah each year to perform the Hajj. It consists of nine stations and connects the holy cities of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina.
“Its operation helps reduce congestion and pollution that was previously caused by the thousands of motor vehicles like buses and cars. Simultaneously, it provides pilgrims with a safe and comfortable travel option,” she adds.
She said during the week-long operation, Makkah Metro has a total of 7,000 staff to manage stations, including crowd control and station management.
Makkah Metro is reported to be one of the most successful transport projects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the reign of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. It has been operating since November 2010 and transports some 500,000 pilgrims in six to eight hours. This translates to 72,000 passengers in a single direction at every hour.
Pilgrims have an obligation to be present at Arafat for wukuf from Zohor to sunset and then head to Muzdalifah, and then Mina. On a bus or car, the travel will consume some seven to eight hours due to heavy traffic conditions. Alternatively, the Makkah Metro presents travel times of less than an hour to each destination and with it, takes away some 4,000 buses from the roads.
According to reports, the number of pilgrims has been on a steady increase over the years. In 2017, some 2.35 million people visited the holy city during the Hajj season and last year, some 2.37 million made the pilgrimage. This, Noormah said, showed a continuous need for a stable rail system to alleviate the congestion and ensure a safe and pleasant journey for the pilgrims.
At the send-off ceremony, Noormah paid due credit to the seconded staff for volunteering their time to be away from their loved ones for the two months but added that their service is recognised and made ERL proud.