The Council of Ministers (cabinet) in Saudi Arabia is attempting to speed up construction of the 450-kilometre Haramain railway project to link the cities of Mecca and Medina by forcing the state-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF) to provide funding.

A cabinet meeting held on 1 February instructed the PIF to finance the service and business contracts for the project by providing interest-free loans.

“The PIF will be compensated for this service through budget allocations in the coming year,” said Culture & Information Minister Abdulaziz Khoja to the Saudi Press Agency.

The cabinet has also instructed the Transport Ministry to provide detailed maps of the Haramain railway route to the Municipal & Rural Affairs Ministry and to the Petroleum & Mineral Resources Ministry.