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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Re: Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by y

Postby rhallock » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:38 pm

I would think that a rail line to the UAE would have a lot of potential. It is on the map but just as a back burner project, it would seem.
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Re: Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by y

Postby george matthews » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:15 pm

rhallock wrote:I would think that a rail line to the UAE would have a lot of potential. It is on the map but just as a back burner project, it would seem.

I don't know what relation Saudi has with the UAE. Their relations with Qatar are bad so a connection there is unlikely. Really, my impression is that the rulers of Saudi don't want connections across the frontier and so will not build such connections, however sensible they may seem to outsiders.

My personal wish is that they would build a huge solar energy industry and phase out their oil, for the sake of preventing world climate damage. They could still sell energy but in the form of the products of solar energy rather than carbon emitting oil products. If they ever do convert to being a solar energy supplier they could have a network of electrically powered railways to replace their massively polluting road transport..
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Re: Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by y

Postby rhallock » Tue Jul 31, 2018 8:39 pm

The Gulf Railway plans to connect Kuwait with Oman, along with all the nations along the way
The Emirates have already built part of their network.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_Railway
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_tran ... b_Emirates
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Re: Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by y

Postby george matthews » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:31 am

rhallock wrote:The Gulf Railway plans to connect Kuwait with Oman, along with all the nations along the way
The Emirates have already built part of their network.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_Railway
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_tran ... b_Emirates

These countries like to sign declarations but whether anything will actually happen is another thing. Will the Saudis actually make a connection to Qatar? I would be surprised. I have thought such a line would be a good thing for the last 30 years so what has been preventing it? I still don't think the Saudis will bring themselves to allow it to be built.
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Re: Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by y

Postby lpetrich » Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:14 pm

george matthews wrote:My personal wish is that they would build a huge solar energy industry and phase out their oil, for the sake of preventing world climate damage. They could still sell energy but in the form of the products of solar energy rather than carbon emitting oil products. If they ever do convert to being a solar energy supplier they could have a network of electrically powered railways to replace their massively polluting road transport..

I know what they might do. Create synthetic-fuel plants operated by solar-energy electricity. Here is what they would do:

Pump water out of the Red Sea and/or the Persian Gulf and then electrolyze it. The resulting very salty water they would pump back into those bodies of water. Electrolysis:
H2O -> H2 + (1/2)*O2

Extract carbon dioxide from the air. That will make these synfuels carbon-neutral.

Combine them in the Fischer-Tropsch reaction to make synfuels:
CO2 + 3H2 -> (CH2) + 2H2O
where (CH2) is hydrocarbons.

The main problem with this synfuel-export strategy is that it is too easy to compete in it. Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco could just as easily make solar synfuels.

That's going rather far afield, but getting back to railroads, synfuels could be a good alternative to petroleum diesel fuel for diesel engines.
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Re: Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by y

Postby george matthews » Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:25 am

Yes, all those developments would work. I am sure they will happen. The Saudis, with their large financial resources, are in a position to invest in solar industries. Other countries, which also have the same solar input could also invest. Any part of the Sahara could produce and export solar energy.
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Re: Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by y

Postby lpetrich » Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:05 am

Saudi Arabia inaugurates Haramain high-speed line | International Railway Journal Haramain = Two Holy Mosques, in Mecca and Medina.
The 453km line connects the holy cities of Mecca and Medina via Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City, with a short branch serving King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, the principal point of entry for Hajj pilgrims.

King Abdullah Economic City is near Rabigh.

Haramain train open to public from next Thursday - Saudi Gazette - October 11
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Re: Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by y

Postby george matthews » Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:05 pm

lpetrich wrote:Saudi Arabia inaugurates Haramain high-speed line | International Railway Journal Haramain = Two Holy Mosques, in Mecca and Medina.
The 453km line connects the holy cities of Mecca and Medina via Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City, with a short branch serving King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, the principal point of entry for Hajj pilgrims.

King Abdullah Economic City is near Rabigh.

Haramain train open to public from next Thursday - Saudi Gazette - October 11

I wonder if non-Muslims will be able to travel? I suspect not.
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Re: Saudi Arabia’s newest passenger rail line to launch by y

Postby lpetrich » Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:13 pm

Mecca - Wikitravel -- the whole city is Muslims-only.
Medina - Wikitravel -- the central part of the city is Muslims-only, though non-Muslims can visit the rest of the city.

Most of the rest of Saudi Arabia seems open to non-Muslims, however, and I'm sure that this Mecca - Medina train will also be.
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