Kuala Lumpur, 18th April 2022 – The recent announcement by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia to allow one million Hajj pilgrims from inside and outside the kingdom this year was welcome news for many Muslims. It also provides the opportunity for Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL) to once again send its operations staff to support the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro operations this year after a two-year hiatus following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also known as the Makkah Metro, this 18-kilometre railway system connects the holy sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, and operates 7 days a year only to transport the pilgrims during the peak Hajj week. The success of Makkah Metro has generated positive influence and received global praise and recognition from Muslims worldwide.
This year marks ERL’s ninth year in providing operational support to Makkah Metro since 2012. The staff secondment project is in collaboration with China Railway Construction Corporation Limited (CRCC) Saudi, the railway operation company appointed by the government to operate the Makkah Metro line.
Chief Executive Officer of ERL, Noormah Mohd Noor said, “We are honoured to be given the trust once again by CRCC Saudi to provide skilled and experienced operations staff to support the Makkah Metro operations for the next three years until 2024. It is a true testament to ERL’s strength and commitment to world-class service and reliability. This year will certainly pose a new challenge to the staff in view of the tight health protocol and emphasis on pilgrims’ safety. Nevertheless, I am confident that their experience, skills and competence will help ensure the operations run smoothly and our good track record is maintained.”
Also speaking at the staff send-off ceremony held at KL Sentral was the Guest of Honour, YBhg. Datuk Isham Bin Ishak, Secretary General of the Ministry of Transport Malaysia who lauded the company’s initiative to expand its services overseas in line with the government’s National Transport Policy. He later handed over the Jalur Gemilang to the ERL Team Leader, Putera Wan Jaffri Bin Abdul Hamid who is being seconded for the seventh time this year.
Since its launch in 2010, the Makkah Metro service has considerably reduced congestion and pollution while at the same time, provided a safer and more comfortable pilgrimage over the years. Pilgrims have an obligation to be present at Arafah on 9th Zulhijjah for Wukuf and then head to Muzdalifah, before moving on to Mina the next day. Taking the Makkah Metro will take less than an hour to each destination and remove some 4,000 buses from the roads. Travelling by bus or car would consume some seven to eight hours due to the heavy traffic.
Pre-COVID-19, the trains could carry as many as 500,000 pilgrims within 6 to 8 hours and more than 5,000 people would be required to run the whole train operations and manage 9 stations during each Hajj season. Their jobs would include: station management, platform and waiting room operations, operation control centre and train drivers.
A total of 25 employees from ERL and its subsidiary company, ERL Maintenance Support Sdn Bhd (E-MAS) will be seconded for a period of two to three months. The first team comprising 10 senior staff members will be leaving for Saudi Arabia on 20th April 2022 while the remaining 15 employees will be flying out on 20th May 2022. They will hold the following positions: Deputy Station Manager, Station Master, Assistant Station Master and Station Control Room Agent.