RIYADH: Train fares within the Kingdom will be competitive compared to the cost of traveling by air, an official of the Saudi Railway Company (SAR) told local media.
Bashar bin Khaled Al-Malik, chief executive of SAR, said the Kingdom has completed the majority of its planned railway network, notably in Makkah and the Northern Borders regions.
Some commercial operations have begun, while the Makkah-Madinah railway line is expected to go into commercial operation before the end of 2017, Al-Malik told the Al-Eqtisadiah daily.
The central and eastern regions will later be linked with a new line, in addition to the development of an existing track, Al-Malik said.
Outstanding works include linking the western and eastern parts of the Kingdom through the “land bridge” between Jeddah and Riyadh, which is expected to be implemented in the next year. The southern part of the Kingdom will be also linked with the western part under a strategic plan set by SAR and the Public Transport Authority (PTA), Al-Malik said.
The train systems deployed in the Kingdom are considered the most advanced, to the extent that the majority of European countries have not yet applied the technology, Al-Malik said.
The systems include a way to monitor train movements, departure timings, routes and speeds.
Al-Malik said Saudi rail projects have attracted a large number of national companies and Saudi engineers, whether in the form of sub-contracting or direct awarding contracts. Operation of the rail projects will come in the form of contracts with foreign firms, while the role of SAR will be to supervise the operators, Al-Malik said.