28 January, 2020

Saudi transport forum puts global spotlight on Kingdom’s booming rail sector

The Railway Forum sought to enhance strategic partnerships between the public and private sectors

Picture used for illustrative purpose. Workers walk at the site of the under-construction Riyadh Metro rail system in the Saudi capital Riyadh August 26, 2015.

Picture used for illustrative purpose. Workers walk at the site of the under-construction Riyadh Metro rail system in the Saudi capital Riyadh August 26, 2015.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

RIYADH: An international conference highlighting the development and growth of the Saudi railway sector on Tuesday opened in Riyadh.

The two-day Railway Forum, organized by the Saudi Railway Co. (SAR) under the patronage of King Salman, is being held at the capital’s Ritz-Carlton hotel with the title, “Joining Tracks for a Closer Future.”

The gathering aims to create an international platform in the Middle East for the active exchange of knowledge and expertise between local and international rail industry experts and stakeholders while promoting the growth potential of the sector in the Kingdom and regionally.

Speaking at the forum’s opening session, Saudi Minister of Transport Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, said the global railway industry was witnessing strong growth with increased investment.

He pointed out that an aggressive rate of industrialization was expected to develop the international market even further while the need for fast, reliable, risk-limited and affordable means of transportation was becoming a necessity.

The sector was working to keep pace with population growth and increased world demand for transportation in general and railways in particular, which were faster, cheaper and safer, the minister added.

Al-Jasser told delegates that the Kingdom was undergoing bold developments in all sectors to realize the Saudi Vision 2030, and the railways, in which Saudi Arabia was investing heavily, were expected to play a key role in turning the country into a global logistics hub.

The Railway Forum sought to enhance strategic partnerships between the public and private sectors, he added.

Bashar Al-Malik, CEO of the SAR, said he hoped the event would generate new ideas to help further boost the Saudi railway sector.

He pointed out that SAR now had huge fleets connecting various cities and more than 47 million tons of minerals had been transported to date, taking around 4 million truckloads off the roads.

Inaugurated by King Salman in September 2018, the Kingdom’s Haramain high-speed railway was one of the most modern and fastest means of transport in the Middle East, added Al-Malik.

It was the first electric train of its kind in the region covering more than 450 km and connecting five stations in Makkah, Jeddah, King Abdul Aziz International Airport, King Abdullah Economic City, and Madinah.

All the stations included facilities such as lounges for business-class travelers, a center for public transport, helicopter landing sites, parking lots, civil defense stations, mosques and commercial spaces to meet passenger requirements.

The forum will be divided into sessions discussing the global vision toward 2030, urban rail, logistic railway benefits, safety and security, and future rail.

It will also offer a unique and active stage for industry stakeholders to share knowledge and expertise, discover new trends and find potential investment opportunities.

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