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The merger of Saudi Railways Organization and Saudi Railways Company has been formally approved.
The combined entity will be responsible for all inter-city railways in the country, and will use the Saudi Railways Company name, abbreviated SAR.
The merger and associated legislative changes would bring enhanced capabilities, more efficient management and greater standardisation, Minister of Transport and SAR Chairman Saleh Bin Nasser Al-Jasser said on February 18. This would contribute towards national goals including improving quality of life by developing transport services, and making the country into a global logistics centre linking Asia, Africa and Europe.
SRO provides passenger and freight services on two routes between Dammam and Riyadh totalling 1 400 km.
SAR was formed in 2006 to develop, own and operate the 2 400 km North–South Railway network, ‘and also to be the young face of this industry and its future pillar of sustainability of passengers and freight transport’, said Al-Jasser.
He said the rail sector has entered a new phase with the inauguration of the 450 km Haramain High Speed Rail line in September 2018. SAR has overall responsibility for the Makkah – Jeddah – Madinah high speed line, with operations contracted to Spain’s RENFE and ADIF.
Work is ‘proceeding at an accelerated pace’ on projects including the proposed land bridge railway which would provide a corridor connecting Red Sea and Gulf ports via Riyadh, Al-Jasser said.
SAR CEO Dr Bashar bin Khalid Al-Malik said the merger with SRO would create opportunities for local and foreign investors in areas including manufacturing, operations, implementation and research & development, and SAR would work with the private sector to increase the share of local content in rail procurement.
He said SAR’s priorities include developing services, raising customer satisfaction, unifying and accelerating its procedures, increasing efficiency and investing in human resources.
This article first appeared on www.railwaygazette.com
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