Users' Evaluation of Rail Systems in Mass Events, Case study in Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, ridership - attitudes, ridership - perceptions, mode - rail


Mecca, pilgrims, rail, survey, satisfaction


Each year during the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, more than 2 million Muslim pilgrims from around the world travel to the Holy City of Mecca in Saudi Arabia for Hajj, an annual religious pilgrimage. A significant milestone in the effort to improve the existing transport system in the Holy City was the introduction of the Southern Masha'er Rail Line during the 2010 pilgrimage season. In the first year of operation, the line operated at only 30% of its full capacity before full implementation in the following year, when the line operated at full capacity of 72,000 passengers per hour. Results are presented of a users' survey that aimed to assess the performance of the rail line from the perspective of its users. The analysis revealed that rail users faced longer access, waiting, and egress times compared with regular rail operations standards. However, survey results showed that the majority of pilgrims found these times to be tolerable. Moreover, the majority of users found the rail line and its stations to be of excellent quality and gave positive recommendations for using the rail line in the future. The analysis also produced some interesting observations that may be of relevance to rail operation in similar crowded events. Those observations are highlighted.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them. Published by Transportation Research Board Washington.