KSA to transform mass transit with autonomous trains

Fabrice Toulouse, director of smart mobility at Alstom.
Updated 17 July 2018
0

KSA to transform mass transit with autonomous trains

When Saudi Arabia’s residents imagine the transportation of tomorrow, the popular image is of autonomous cars plowing Riyadh’s King Abdullah Road, carrying workers, university students, and football fans alike. But with the Saudi government heavily investing in mass transit and advanced technology, the likely future of transport is quite different. Automation is set to transform not only cars but also shared transportation, such as metros, trains, trams, and buses. 

As automation progresses, the costs of sensors and artificial intelligence are decreasing, while the computing power of connected vehicles is increasing. As a result, the Kingdom is at the forefront of using automation to make mass transit faster, cheaper, safer, and more energy efficient — especially on metros and mainline trains in the short term, and buses and trams further ahead.

For example, the Saudi government is heavily investing in autonomous transportation across the country, including the driverless Riyadh Metro, with lines 4, 5, and 6 being developed by the Alstom-partnered FAST consortium. Further in the Kingdom, autonomous transportation will be a key part of the transportation plans for the NEOM Smart City, and regionally, automated transport was a key topic at the recent MENA Transport Congress hosted by the UITP, the international organization for public transport.

In the Saudi cities of the future, automation of signaling and trains could make its biggest impact in enhancing the effectiveness of metros and mainline trains.

Alstom, as a global leader in mobility solutions, is exchanging best practices in autonomous transport with the Middle East, and is supporting rail innovation in the Kingdom by conducting initial dynamic tests for the Riyadh Metro Project at the FAST consortium Line 4 Depot Test Track. Line 4 will feature driverless trains, state-of-the-art signaling, safe and secure stations, and advanced real-time passenger information systems.

“Automation can significantly reduce traffic congestion, costs, and pollution. It can increase travel speeds and rapidly boost the country’s urban economic growth. 

As the Kingdom ramps up its investment in smart cities and Saudi Vision 2030, government organizations and the private sector need to take the next six months to plan the future of automated transport,” said Fabrice Toulouse, director of smart mobility at Alstom. 


Positive impact of Vision 2030 on hospitality: Report

Ascott has reported a decrease of 10 percent in expat families within the Kingdom.
Updated 16 December 2018
0

Positive impact of Vision 2030 on hospitality: Report

The Ascott Limited has drawn up a report into the changing dynamics of guest profiles in Saudi Arabia. 

As the government’s Vision 2030 economic diversification strategy proves to have a positive effect on the hospitality industry, Ascott is witnessing a notable change in its guests across the Kingdom. This has been influenced by the swift introduction of various initiatives from the removal of ban on women driving, to the introduction of cinemas, concerts with mixed-gender admission and major events such as the Formula E that was held last week in Riyadh.

“Our guest profiles are changing in line with the changing dynamics of the country. We have seen a spike in female guests of 7 percent from 2017, influenced by guests traveling for both work and leisure,” said Vincent Miccolis, Ascott’s regional GM for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey. 

Female guests have increased considerably this year, as properties across Jeddah averaged a 9 percent growth, while Ascott Rafal Olaya Riyadh experienced a growth rate of 5 percent. 

“It means there is an opportunity for the serviced residence industry to tap in to the growing number of female travelers and provide tailored services specifically for women,” explained Miccolis.

Ascott Rafal Olaya Riyadh has a women’s only leisure floor consisting of an outdoor pool, gymnasium, lounge, children’s playroom and day spa. The property is receiving positive feedback from female business travelers about the facilities.

Ascott has reported a decrease of 10 percent in expat families within the Kingdom, attributed to the introduction of expat levies on dependents. Family occupants taking two and three-bedroom apartments have moved to single occupants in a one-bedroom apartment. Miccolis said: “If the announcement made last week on Bloomberg regarding a review of the expat levies being restructured comes to fruition, it will provide a positive outcome for our industry.” 

International guests have maintained a consistent average over the last two years of 25 percent across the Kingdom, however Jeddah and Riyadh are on opposite scales. Fifty-five percent of Ascott Rafal Olaya Riyadh’s guests are international, which is a growth of 15 percent from 2017. While the four properties in Jeddah have 15 percent international guests, this is a decline of 10 percent from 2017.

“With these changing dynamics of our guests in the Kingdom, a key focus is customer service training, with the goal of exceeding guest expectations. 

This year posed a credible 92 percent customer satisfaction score, a testament to the staff in the region,” said Miccolis.