ABB Traction Transformers to Power High-Speed Trains to Mecca

Image Courtesy of ABB

People are travelling more today than ever and with a global trend towards greater urbanization, many countries are investing in high speed rail (HSR) so that passengers can enjoy minimum journey times in comfort, while remaining considerate to the environment. In Saudi Arabia a 450-km long high-speed line is under construction that will provide a safe and comfortable alternative to travel by road or air . The Haramain high-speed intercity line is expected to carry three million passengers a year reducing travel time between Medina and Mecca to two hours, and Jeddah and Mecca to half an hour. Mecca has a population of 1.7 million. Being a holy city it attracts an additional 2.5 million Hajj pilgrims and more than two million Umrah performers every year during the month of Ramadan and seasonal holidays. In the past the only available option was to travel by road, either by private vehicle, taxi or onboard one of the many buses, or by air which is why the Haramain high-speed intercity line was conceived.

According to a study by the Ministry of Hajj, over the next 25 years the number of pilgrims drawn to Mecca is expected to increase to more than three million and the number of Umrah performers to more than 11 million.
Traction transformer

ABB Supply 72 Traction Transformer Sets

To help complete the project ABB has already provided two identical static VAr compensators (SVCs) in a previous order to maintain the stability of the power grid when the HSR system is in operation. Now to power the high-speed trains ABB will supply 72 traction transformer sets and two spares as well as 72 battery chargers to the Spanish train manufacturer Talgo for the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) the state-owned company that operates Saudi Arabia’s rail network.

SRO has ordered 35 Talgo 350 electric trains, which will operate on the line at 300 km/h. The trains will use ABB traction transformers, a well-proven technology that is already deployed onboard Talgo Avril high-speed trains, which operate at speeds of 380 km/h. ABB traction transformers are designed to withstand desert temperatures that can range from -20C to more than 55C and in harsh desert conditions such as blowing dust and scalding sand as well as travelling from sea shore to altitudes exceeding 1200 m.

ABB traction transformers are critical components in the traction chain, affecting both train performance and operator services, said Markus Heimbach, head of ABBs Transformers business, a part of the companys Power Products division. We are proud to be able to provide our advanced and proven technology to this prestigious rail project.


The Haramain high-speed intercity line is not only the best option for safe and comfortable travel for pilgrims, but it is also expected to boost local businesses and tourism.

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