North-South train to run early next year

Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar (right) inspects facilities at a train station on the North-South Railway on Thursday. Later he took a ride on the train. (AN photos by Khalid Al-Khamis)
Updated 21 October 2016

North-South train to run early next year

RIYADH: Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar said Thursday that the North-South Railway will be launched early next year, asserting that the project is feasible both at the economic and security levels as it will save lives of travelers on the roads and protect them against the hazards of commuting by car. 
The governor was speaking to local media during a trial run by the operator of the train, from Riyadh to Al-Majma’ah. “We expect the train will officially operate within two to three months, at the beginning of 2017,” he said
Prince Faisal predicted great success for the project, especially as it was carefully studied and enjoys economic feasibility as studies showed, noting that the train is to be operated and serviced by young Saudis in the area of command and control, and in the hospitality industry, after the Saudi Railways Company (SAR) sent a number of Saudis on scholarship to learn how to drive and operate trains.
“We are proud of our young Saudis who will drive this train. SAR has worked from the beginning to send Saudi citizens abroad to learn how to operate the train,” added Prince Faisal.
He noted that the Kingdom is vast in size, which requires such service projects, particularly in the transport sector, and called on citizens to be patient, especially since the Kingdom is on the verge of a big change and looks forward to huge development works.
The Governor was briefed during the tour on the readiness of the passenger train from Riyadh to Al-Majma’ah. He also visited the stations and was accompanied by Minister of Transport Sulaiman Al-Hamdan, Al-Majma’ah Gov. Prince Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah, and Rumaih M. Alrumaih, CEO of Saudi Railway Company.
The railway line is 1,250 km long and the train will start from Riyadh and pass through Al-Majma’ah, Qasim, Hail and Jouf to reach Al-Qurayyat. The train will have 12 cars with allocated places for the disabled in three places, along with three small praying areas which can be transformed into disabled areas if necessary.


Technical glitches on Absher prevent exempt Saudis from traveling abroad

Updated 27 September 2020

Technical glitches on Absher prevent exempt Saudis from traveling abroad

  • On Sept. 13, the Saudi government issued a list of categories of people permitted to travel outside of the Kingdom
  • However, only a few days after the announcement, many students, patients and other exempted residents were unable to apply due to a technical fault on Absher

JEDDAH: Absher, the “one-stop shop” web-portal for Saudi government services, has been experiencing technical glitches that have left many citizens and expats unable to travel, despite them meeting the “exceptional case” categories outlined by the Interior Ministry more than two weeks ago.
Earlier this year and as part of its response to COVID-19, the Saudi government suspended all international flights to and from the Kingdom in a move that has successfully reduced infections across the country.
On Sept. 13, the Saudi government issued a list of categories of people permitted to travel outside of the Kingdom. These include diplomats, humanitarian cases, Saudis who live outside the Kingdom for work or study, among others. To be able to leave the country an eligible individual must apply — with supporting documents — for a permit to the passport authority.
However, only a few days after the announcement, many students, patients and other exempted residents were unable to apply due to a technical fault on Absher.
“The option to request the permit suddenly vanished from the relevant page, so while you could access Absher you just couldn’t submit your request. I tried every day for nearly two weeks,” said a Saudi woman who holds residency in a neighboring country. She added that while there was no announcement, the only information that she read in the local press was that the service was facing technical glitches.
“Yesterday, they announced that Absher was back but said that new requirements were set,” she said. “These include providing a copy of the residency card abroad and proof that an applicant has lived out of the Kingdom for six months every year for the past three years. In addition they requested a copy of my tenancy contract.”
“I spent all day collecting the documents. When I tried to upload the PDF the first time it told me that the file was too big, so I went to find software to reduce the size and when I finally managed to do so, I couldn’t log in as the whole website was down with a message saying that it was either temporarily unavailable or that they were serving someone else,” she said.
Other people, including one Saudi cancer patient who is due to return for treatment in Germany, spoke of the same technical glitches. When Arab News tried to log on to verify earlier today, it was unable to with an automated message that said “currently we are serving others, please try again later.”  The problem seems to have been resolved for some users by 10 pm.