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Saudi Arabia to invest USD 45bn in rail network - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Middle East, Saudi Arabia - Hajj Light Railway (AP)

Middle East, Saudi Arabia—Hajj Light Railway (AP)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Experts say they expect Saudi Arabia’s decision to invest USD 45 billion in rail projects will be used to establish a new series of rail networks in the kingdom. The networks will include the Saudi Landbridge project, the North–South railway, and the Haramain High Speed Rail, as well as the GCC network, the Riyadh electric light rail and the Mecca Metro.

The network is expected to be around 4,500 miles long, forming an integrated passenger rail network across the kingdom. Rail passenger numbers are expected to rise to 3.4 million passengers by 2014, using the current network of the North–South Railway and the Haramain High Speed Rail line.

Rabi’a Awadi, head of business development for transport solutions at Huawei Enterprises–Middle East and North Africa, said: “The transport sector infrastructure in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia, will experience a radical shift in the next 10 years. Markets expect the value of rail communication systems’ projects to reach millions of dollars.”

He added that the future of the railway networks would depend on the 4G technology capability in the region, because this technology represents the backbone of the all railway communication systems.

He said that more advanced systems for the railway network, based on the Long-Term Evolution technology, would allow all railway networks of the GCC to be integrated into a single communication infrastructure.

Mohammed Abdelrahim, an engineer specializing in railway network technology, said wireless networks on trains, which are based on 4G, enhance passenger experience on high-speed trains by providing broadband Internet connection and mobile phone coverage, and enabling video calls to homes and offices through wireless and mobile networks.

Passengers will also be able to monitor journey progress through an integrated scheduling and ticketing network, available through an app for their smart phones.

Railway operators will be able to exchange information on journeys, passengers and train condition. They will also be able to closely monitor security through the latest equipment, using CCTV technology.