Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by year’

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Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by year’

Postby David Benton » Sat Sep 16, 2017 3:41 am

HAIL — One of the world’s longest railway lines will be launched in the Kingdom on Dec. 24, realizing the dream of more than two million people. The 2,750-km railway line linking Riyadh with the northern city of Gurayat is being built at a cost of SR10 billion.
http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/5171 ... i-railways
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Re: Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by y

Postby george matthews » Sat Sep 16, 2017 8:48 am

An interesting vanity project. The Saudis have what appears to be unlimited spare cash for this sort of thing. Two trains a day? I wonder if they will fill the seats.
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Re: Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by y

Postby johnthefireman » Mon Sep 18, 2017 7:01 am

George, you do seem to be pretty negative about new rail projects in most of the world...
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Re: Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by y

Postby george matthews » Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:13 am

johnthefireman wrote:George, you do seem to be pretty negative about new rail projects in most of the world...

I have spent three years in Saudi and have fairly negative feelings about the country. They have not been favourable about rail until recently. And a multi thousand mile line intending to have two trains a day is a bit bizarre, even for Saudi.

And I do think the new East African standard gauge line will prove useful. I think the metre gauge lines have outlived their usefulness. South Africa also should consider converting to standard gauge, as more suitable to a modernising country.

One of the comments quoted in the website mentions that a rail line is needed between Riyadh and Jeddah. I am sure there is unsatisfied travel demand for that route. But of course there are difficulties in construction of that route. The steep change in elevation as the route descends to sea level is certainly a problem. I have journeyed several times on the road linking Jeddah to Tai'f. I can well imagine the problems of building a modern railway up that slope.

An easier route might be from Medina to Riyadh. Travel time would be longer than a route via Taif but construction might not face the problems of a steep ascent.
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Re: Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by y

Postby george matthews » Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:10 pm

HAIL — One of the world’s longest railway lines will be launched in the Kingdom on Dec. 24, realizing the dream of more than two million people. The 2,750-km railway line linking Riyadh with the northern city of Gurayat is being built at a cost of SR10 billion.


Gurayat is not a notable town. What is its interest as a destination? My feeling has been for many years that the Saudis do not want to have connections outside their frontiers. And when you consider the actual condition of all their neighbours one can understand their reluctance. Would they want a rail line to Yemen? It's in a state of complete collapse - mainly due to Saudi bombardment. And it's Shi'ite. If Yemen ever becomes peaceful again they might want a rail connection to Aden. But I don't think one should hold the breath on Yemeni recovery. I first visited Aden in 1965 when it was still a British colony. Even then there was an intimidating presence of British troops. I went again at the moment when the former British colony was about to join Yemen proper. When I went for the second time, representing the British Council, I saw the city of Aden and also some towns inland to the north. I didn't see much potential for rail transport. I did see a steam locomotive rusting in the desert outside Aden city, the only relic I saw of the former British line. I don't think there was any track. The process of reunification was already beginning while I was there - rendering the purpose of my trip pointless - but I had fitted in a visit to Nairobi so it wasn't entirely useless. Since reunification the southern part of the country has experienced civil war. I wonder if anyone wishes the British could come back?

What about connections from Saudi to Iraq? I have no wish to go there in its current condition and I doubt if anyone else does. Even less to Syria. The only neighbour they might want a rail connection to is Kuwait, which is quite a popular destination for young male Saudis, who also used to like visiting Basra - for the purpose of freely available booze and broads. Maybe Oman. I suppose one can imagine a line to Jordan, which would seem more suitable than Gurayat. It could be a useful pilgrim route.

The only rail route in the Arab world I have actually travelled on was from Basra to Baghdad. That was a couple of years before Saddam tried to invade Kuwait. It was quite a pleasant journey but I would be surprised if it is still running. I was supposed to fly from Basra but I insisted on taking the train. The Iraq train consisted of carriages made in East Germany. The carriage I travelled in was the traditional compartment type. I had a packed lunch provided by the hotel in Basra. The air conditioning was adequate.

On looking up the "city" of Quruyyat https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qurayyat,_Saudi_Arabia I note that it is very near the frontier with Jordan, so it could be used as the basis of a rail line into Jordan, or as the terminal for pilgrims crossing the frontier. That may well be the main source of its traffic.
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