05/02/2013

Saudi railway projects excite expatriates

 

Arab News By ALVIN RELOX
2 May 2013:
Expatriates have expressed appreciation for the ongoing railway projects of the Saudi Railway Organization (SRO).“I think the Saudi government has made the right decision to spend billions of riyals on railway projects because it will benefit foreigners and Saudis alike and can greatly reduce traffic,” Sadaf Rahil, a Pakistani teacher in Tiny Tots International School, told Arab News.

Saudi railway projects excite expatriates

Arab News By ALVIN RELOX

2 May 2013:

Expatriates have expressed appreciation for the ongoing railway projects of the Saudi Railway Organization (SRO).
“I think the Saudi government has made the right decision to spend billions of riyals on railway projects because it will benefit foreigners and Saudis alike and can greatly reduce traffic,” Sadaf Rahil, a Pakistani teacher in Tiny Tots International School, told Arab News.
The Haramain High Speed Rail (HHR) project, the 450-kilometer long electric-powered rail that will connect Makkah and Madinah through Jeddah, is one of SRO’s ongoing projects. It promises its future riders a faster and more comfortable travel to Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah which raised the interest of expatriates living in Saudi Arabia.
According to Jay Baker, 52, an American who works as a program manager in Al-Sallam Aircraft Company, the completion of the HHR project can possibly boost tourism in Saudi Arabia saying that foreigners who want to visit Makkah or Madinah will be the one of the main beneficiaries of the said project once it is done.
“If we plan on taking a vacation in Jeddah, Madinah or Makkah, we will definitely give it a try because it will be faster and more comfortable than riding a car especially with me as its driver,” Baker said in an interview.
Madinah and Makkah are the two holy cities visited by pilgrims. In that connection, the completion of HHR will make it easier for Muslim pilgrims to travel back and forth to these two cities as well as Jeddah. Expatriates who plan to visit the holy cities will also benefit from it because it will greatly reduce their travel time and will be more comfortable compared to traveling by bus.
According to SRO, the Haramain High Speed Rail project was being given top priority because of its religious significance. Travel records showed that the number of travelers to Makkah and Madinah increases every year during Haj and Umrah and that's why a faster, convenient and larger form of transportation is needed to accommodate the pilgrims.
Aside from the security and comfort, Aris Quinto, 34, a Filipino working in Arab National Bank, said that train journey will help lessen pollution in Saudi Arabia.
“The new train will help Filipinos travel to Saudi Arabian provinces and can greatly reduce pollution because it will run on electricity,” Quinto told Arab News.
“I travel by train in Saudi Arabia whenever I visit my relatives in Riyadh and I can say that the air is cleaner inside,” Edwin Ruga, a Filipino working in Zamil Steel Industries told Arab News.
SRO will be using a new type of railway system in their HHR project. Unlike the Kingdom’s existing trains, which run on diesel, an electricity-powered railway system is currently being constructed for the first time in Saudi Arabia.
Studies showed that compared to oil powered vehicles, an electric powered train can definitely reduce pollution because it does not release any type of harmful gases in the atmosphere when it operates because of its power source. Arab nationals have also appreciated the government's decision to approve the said railway project and are also eager to see its completion.
“Saudi railway projects are good and beautiful because it will boost our economy,” Sulaiman Abdullah Al-Kholaifi, an Arab working as a government relations supervisor, told Arab News.
“Railway projects may reduce demand on cars once it is completed because trains are more effective and secured plus it is a cheaper way of traveling,” Al-Kholaifi added.
He said that when the Riyadh Dry Port became operational records show that the economy got a boost especially in terms of trade and commerce.
Statistics showed that due to the availability of quality of services at competitive prices, fast delivery as well as overall improvement in performance many traders from across the country opted to use its services that resulted in a big increase in business.
In terms of employment, Mansour Al-Ajmi, an Arab working as a government bidder in Al-Khaleejiah Advertising Company, said that railway projects will generate jobs for unemployed Saudi youths.
“Whenever a new railway project is progress, SRO will surely hire people thus, boosting employment for Saudis,” Al-Ajmi said.
Railway projects take years to complete. Haramain High Speed Rail project, for instance, started in May 2009 and is scheduled to be completed in 2014. During this time frame, many people will be provided employment. Thara Karthik, a kindergarten teacher, thought the completion of the railway projects might also empower women.
“When the project is completed, it will be a blessing for women here in Saudi Arabia because it won’t cost as much as hiring a taxi. We don’t always depend too much on our husbands to drive us to places where we want to go and we can spend more time as a family while traveling by train,” Karthik said.
Now, the SRO is focusing on the early completion of the Haramain railway project which is scheduled to be completed next year. It is now undergoing Phase 2.
On completion of Saudi railway projects, foreigners and Saudis alike expect great changes. They expect decrease in the number of road accidents and traffic jams and possible elimination of air pollution.
“It is a very nice project and I hope it will serve the people effectively once it is completed,” Sulaiman Abdullah Al-Kholaifi said.