Saudi Arabia is an Asian Southwestern country with an area of around 2149690 km. From North it is connected to Iraq and Jordan, on the East to Kuwait, the Persian Gulf, UAE, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, from South to Yemen, and from West to the Red Sea.
The length of its land borders is 4532 km, sharing 808 km with Iraq, 222 km with Kuwait, 676 km with Oman, 40 km with Qatar, 586 km with UAE, and 1458 km with Yemen.
According to the latest statistics in 2017, the population of Saudi Arabia is reported about 32.5 million people.
The biggest city and the capital of Saudi Arabia is Riyadh. However, Jeddah, the former capital city, still has great importance; the governing body of Saudi Arabia sojourn several months a year in the city; the cabinet meetings are also held in it. It should be mentioned that, apart from the famous palace of Al Salam where Malak Fahad and other principal princes are living, all ministries of Saudi Arabia have a branch in Jeddah.
Port of Jeddah has great economical importance; since it is considered as the most significant commercial and passenger port of Saudi Arabia. In addition, it is considered as the gate of Mecca and Medina; because besides the Islamic port of Jeddah, Malek Abdul Aziz International Airport is located in this city, where around millions of pilgrims visit this country to carry out their pilgrimage to Mecca. The beach highway of this city with 40 km length is beside the Red Sea and the Mosque of Al Zahra that has been constructed over the sea and the big fountain of the city that has been installed in the sea have made Jeddah a unique beauty; so it is called “Bride of the Red Sea”. Out of the other major cities of this country Mecca, Medina, Dammam, Yanbu’, Ta’if could be mentioned.
Saudi Arabian Railways (SAR)
The head office of SAR is based in Dammam. According to the SARs management structure, the President is at the top who has two deputies, one as the Vice-President and the other as the Deputy of Operation. Both deputies are divided into several departments, such as Finance and Administration, Director of Riyadh, Projects, Maintenance of Rolling Stock, Operation, Marketing, Promotion and Training, Maintenance of Tracks, Equipment, Investments, and International Affairs.
Construction of the rail network in Saudi Arabia traces back to 1951, during which a railway of 571 km was opened. This line begins from Dammam, and after passing Zahran, Baqiq, Hofuf, Harz and Kharj, ends in Riyadh. In 1985, a branch line of 332 km was constructed from Hofuf to Riyadh. Presently, the length of rail lines in Saudi Arabia reaches 2785 km including the branch lines. The Saudi Arabian Railways (SAR) is a member of UIC, DGMO and CMO.
The rail network of Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia rail network, a standard gauge of 1435 mm is used. 140 km of its existing rail network (Dammam – Hofuf) is double-track and the max. speed on this route is 120 km/h. 308 km of the rail lines has been designed for the speed of 150 km/h that is being used for passenger transportation only. Another double-track route has been constructed between Hofuf and Riyadh (416 km), which passes the city of Kharj. It should be mentioned that the conventional line of Dammam – Hofuf – Riyadh is used for the freight transportation.
This route transfers the imported goods from the port of Dammam to Riyadh. Additionally, transportation of the oil products from Zahran to Hofuf and Kharj, cereals in particular wheat from the silos of Riyadh and Kharj to Dammam for the purpose of exporting abroad, and transportation of the imported cereals in particular barley from Dammam to Riyadh and Kharj is done by this route.
Major rail projects
The most important railway projects of Saudi Arabia include construction of a 100 km new line from Dammam to the industrial complex of Jubail. Of course, the feasibility studies on this route are still under way. The axle-load of this route is 30 t., manual barriers are used on it, and it is equipped with 60 kg rails of CWR type, concrete sleepers and flexible fasteners.
Saudi Arabia is working on a national plan in order to develop its rail network. This development plan has three key parts: 1. The railway of North – South (passenger & freight) with the length of 1765 km; for rail connection with the other member states of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council; 2. Construction of new lines from east to west between Riyadh and Jeddah (915 km) and a direct line from Riyadh to Jubail and the northeastern Phosphate reservoirs (115 km); 3. The high-speed passenger line of Mecca – Jeddah – Medina (about 450 km).
The network of SAR gets connected to the GCC member states
Through the operation of its North – South railway (2400 km), Saudi Arabia also intends to enhance its rail connections with the other member states of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) by involvement of the local and foreign companies. For this goal, until now some contracts to the amount of three billion and two hundred million Dollars have been concluded with the local and foreign companies including French, Chinese and American companies in order to fulfill the software and hardware systems of this big rail project.
Launching the first high speed train of Middle-East till 2015
In the early 2010, the "Scott Wilson Group plc" – a multi-disciplinary international design and engineering consultancy for the built and natural environments - won a US$23.3 m tender in Saudi Arabia for managing launching the first high speed train of Middle-East. This concession was granted by SAR to the said company for a five-year period. By virtue of this contract, the Scot Wilson Group shall provide SRO with the technical, engineering and managing services. These services are to support the "high speed train of Haramain". It is considered as the first high speed railway project in the Middle-East, the length of which is 320 km connecting Mecca, Jeddah, the new economic town of Malak Abdullah and Medina. This project also links the said cities with the international airport of Jeddah.
By this project, fast and safe transportation of the pilgrims to the sacred cities of Saudi Arabia is realized. This project, furthermore, will contribute in increasing the efficiency of the public transportation towards the commercial centers. The Chief officials of the Scott Wilson Group, by recalling the investment growth in the main infrastructures of Saudi Arabia, expressed satisfaction of their involvement in such project.
Key contact details in SAR
Ministry of Transportation
Minister: Mr. Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi
Tel.: (+966) 340 215 10
Fax: (+966) 340 557 05
Saudi Railway Company (SAR)
P.O. Box: 36, Dammam 31241, Saudi Arabia
Railway President: Mr. Bashar AlMalik
Tel.: (+966) 387 102 22
Fax: (+966) 382 711 30
Vice President & Shared Services, SAR: Mr. Salah A. Alomair
Tel.: (+966) 50 647 63 74
Regional Office Contact Person
Mr. Humphrey Glennie, Legal General Manager
Tel.: (+971) 55 853 2008
Ms. Hanan Essam, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org