In the forties of the last century AD, the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had initiated the first plans to achieve economic growth and improve the welfare of its citizens.
At that time, the extraction of oil had begun. With it, the vital need to establish a port on the coast of the Arabian Gulf, and the creation of a safe, fast, sustainable and low-cost means of transportation was recognized.
King Abdulaziz Al Saud, "The Founder" - may Allah have mercy on his soul, agreed upon the idea to build a commercial port to harbor the huge ships that brought in oil drilling equipment, and later the oil tankers . And approved the start the railway project to connect the new port. Thus the railway sector was born, with which work began in October 1947 AD. A few years later in October 1951 AD, King Abdul Aziz," may Allah bless him" - inaugurated the first railway line between Riyadh and Dammam.
With the goals of building an integrated transportation system, that provides the necessary efficiencies and legislations that enable the railway sector to maximize its potential in transforming the Kingdom into a logistical hub. A resolution of the Council of Ministers has been issued on 2/16/2021, assigning Saudi Railways Company (SAR) to take over the operations and management of the network from the Saudi Railway Organization, starting April 1, 2021.
Established in 2006, SAR is the owner and operator of the North Train Railway Network, and now, the new enabler of Railway industry, and carries on the vision to build a sustainable passenger and cargo transport. It has been a story of success for the railway industry. Taking into consideration the networks that have been established in the past decade, and the enormity of these projects which are amongst the largest infrastructure developments in the Kingdom.
SAR trains currently run through three main networks (North - East - Harman) with lengths of more than 5,500 km, through which more than 33 million passengers have been transported.
Another remarkable moment was in 2018, when the HHR Train, one of the ten fastest passenger trains in the world, was inaugurated by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz - may Allah bless him - to serve the pilgrims, visitors of Makkah and Madinah.
Having been assigned the operation of the Mashaer Metro line in 2019, SAR achieved significant growth in the transportation of pilgrims, with an increase of 13% over 2018.
Moreover, SAR operates night and day passenger trains through the North Train network, with a speed up to 200 km per hour .To ensure the highest levels of customer satisfaction. All Trains are equipped with superior services and facilities such as booths for families, prayer areas, a restaurant car, air conditioning, Wi-Fi and an information system.
Success goes on with freight trains. As more than 2000 freight wagons and 157 locomotives are all geared to transport more than (10) million tons annually. As SAR operates one of the ten longest freight trains in the world, with a length of 3 km. SAR managed to transport more than 58 million tons of minerals from 2011 until the end of 2020, which contributed to displacing more than 4.5 million trucks from the roads.
The container shipping service has a success story of its own, as it approximately transports 350,000 containers annually. With plans to raise the operational efficiency with the completion of Jubail-Dammam connection project, to reach the 1.1 million container. And introduce car freight service for the first time in the Kingdom, starting in March of next year in conjunction with Al Qurayyat station opening.
Such accomplishments were achieved in an environment of safety and security, as SAR won the International Safety Award from the British Safety Council, for the year 2020, the second year consecutively. For its commitment to the highest standards of safety in the workplace, and to maintaining the health and safety of customers, and reducing the occurrence of accidents. SAR achieved this, with the careful and strict adoption of the latest standards.
The story is going on ... we at SAR are writing the rest of its chapters in the coming years.