MAKKAH: Engineer Mohammed Malah said he was filled with joy after driving the Haramain high-speed train two weeks ago for the very first time to Makkah. “This experience was preceded by intensive training in Madrid and Barcelona on how to drive high-speed trains inside and outside cities at a speed of [up to] 300 kph,” he added.
Malah told Arab News he never imagined he would one day become a train captain, especially for a job to which many Saudi people from different disciplines had applied.
He explained that the first four months after being admitted to the Spanish company’s program for driving trains, trainees were introduced to theories related to trains, their routes and methods for driving trains in Saudi Arabia and abroad.
“We were introduced to international experiences through intensive courses and we underwent several exams to measure our readiness and ensure the people who were selected to drive high-speed trains in Saudi Arabia are adequately qualified,” he added.
The trainees conducted various field trials in Spain, supervised by Renfe Operadora, which is an important company in the sector, and had to drive trains inside large cities like Madrid and Barcelona in order to acquire the necessary skills and learn about train routes, trip scheduling, safety and maintenance.
“We were gradually trained to reach a speed of 300 kph, which was a unique experience that carried great excitement,” Malah said.
He said that a train captain must be mentally ready and qualified enough for this experience, which requires the ability to deal with the toughest of situations, in addition to driving steadily and having enough relevant knowledge. “Driving a train that carries 400 passengers and runs at 300 kph requires strength, determination and balance,” he said.
Speaking about the Spanish train driving experience, Malah said the field is very dynamic there, and Europeans highly rely on trains in their daily commutes and transportation. “It’s a culture they acquired after long decades, to the point where some of them gave up driving their own vehicles because trains are cheaper and faster,” he said.
“Entering Makkah a few days ago for the first time in preparation for the train’s official operation in December was one of my best experiences in life so far!” he said. “It was a great experience to drive a train to this holy city for the first time in its history, and I ask God to harness this service for Muslims who come here from all over the world to ensure their comfort.”
In the same context, Malah said the people of Makkah were delighted to see the train run trial trips, especially when it’s being driven by young Saudi men, and they were taking pictures.
Officials, engineers and staff have also taken all operational measures to run the train from Jeddah to Makkah.
The Haramain high-speed train had run its first trial trip to Makkah two weeks ago in order to work on the final preparations before its official launch in December, which is set to transport 60 million passengers every year.