A 1940s idea is on track as an engine of Kingdom's development

Aramco suggests establishing a railway from Dammam to Riyadh to boost the national economy

September 21, 2022

RIYADH — The idea of establishing railways in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia started in the 1940s when the need then emerged to build a commercial port on the gulf coast to transport imported goods to warehouses of Saudi Arabian Oil Co. (Aramco).

The idea that Aramco suggested to establish a railway from Dammam to Riyadh included constructing a big commercial port that can receive big ships transporting equipment for the oil industry, in addition to the benefits of this port for the national economy.

When the idea was referred to the late King Abdulaziz Bin Abdulrahman Al Saud he ordered the implementation of the entire project to reach Riyadh where the implementation of the scheme started on Oct. 21, 1947.

On Oct. 20, 1951, the route was inaugurated in Riyadh during an official ceremony that was attended by the late King Abdulaziz and King Saud Bin Abdulaziz and several senior officials.

The railway remained operational under the supervision of Aramco for a while before its affiliation was changed to the Ministry of Finance and was called the Railway Authority.

A Royal Decree was issued on May 13, 1966 approving a constitutive act for the Saudi Railways Organization, under which the railway was changed into a public institution with a legal responsibility that is run by a board of directors that sets its general policy according to commercial standards.

The year 2006 marked the launch, where the Public Investments Fund established the Saudi Railway Company (SAR) to be responsible for administrating and operating railways, starting from the implementation and operation of the North Train Project.

In February, 2021, the Cabinet issued a decision abolishing the Saudi Railways Organization and its bylaw and to be replaced with SAR as of April 1, 2021, where SAR will be the owner of movable and immovable operational assets and the infrastructure of train projects for cargo and passengers.

SAR owns three main networks: the North, East and the Haramain Highspeed Railway, in addition to administrating all operations of the Holy Lands train with a total length of over 5,380 kilometers.

The railway serves five ports, including two in Al-Jubail, King Abdulaziz Port in Al-Dammam, the Dry Port in Riyadh, and Ras Al-Kheir Port and two mines.

SAR also includes 15 passenger stations, 8 maintenance shops and 15 handling yards, where it also operates 220 cargo and passenger trains and transports over three million passengers annually.

SAR was also classified as one of the best three railway companies on the global safety index for train operators issued by the International Union of Railways in 2019, and won the International Safety Award for 2020 from the British Safety Council for the second time in a row, in addition to receiving the ISO45001 in the field of health and safety.

SAR also seeks to implement the wise strategic vision for the railway sector through benefiting from all useful and advanced means, including advanced communication tools, to serve the interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its economy, and welfare of citizens. — SPA

September 21, 2022
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