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Passenger numbers on Saudi trains leap 23% in a year

Saudi Arabia is looking to shift traffic to its railways to improve road safety and reduce carbon emissions from car usage Unsplash/Yusuf Mansoor
Saudi Arabia is looking to shift traffic to its railways to improve road safety and reduce carbon emissions from car usage
  • Q1 number rose to almost 3m
  • 9% rise in minerals and goods carried
  • 10 new passenger trains ordered

Passenger traffic on Saudi railways rose 23 percent year on year to 2.7 million people in the first quarter of 2024, the state operator said this week, as the kingdom pushes to improve infrastructure before a 2030 deadline

The railway system also saw a 9 percent rise in the volume of minerals and goods transported, to 6.34 million tonnes during the first three months of this year, the CEO of Saudi Arabia Railways, Bashar bin Khaled Al-Malik, told the Saudi Press Agency on 2 May. 

Saudi Arabia is looking to shift traffic to its railways to improve road safety and reduce carbon emissions from car usage, the agency said. 

Al-Malik said Saudi Arabia Railways has ordered 10 passenger trains from the Swiss train manufacturer Stadler for the Riyadh-Dammam line, which would raise annual passenger numbers to 3.8 million.  

A new luxury train service aimed at tourists, called Dream of the Desert, will also be extended from Riyadh to include Dammam in the Gulf coast in the Eastern Province, a region that is being transformed into a vast logistics centre

The Orient Express-style train will begin operating by the end of 2025, Al-Malik said, but bookings will open later this year. The 40-cabin trains are being built by Italy’s Arsenale Group, with a contract signed in January

The Dream of the Desert will run on the existing Saudi railway network from Riyadh through desert landscapes to the far north. The kingdom only has two other lines, the Riyadh to Dammam service, and a high-speed line linking the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. 

Saudi Arabia’s massive economic transformation programme envisages 100 million tourists visiting a year by 2030, requiring heavy investment in infrastructure such as railways.

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