RIYADH: Saudi Railway Company (SAR) has started operating its first scheduled passenger service between Riyadh and Al Qassim from Sunday, February 26, local media reported.
The railway line will operate round trips five times per week until April 1, running daily from Thursday to Monday.
The train will depart Riyadh at 10am and arrive in Al Qassim at 12.31pm, with the return trip beginning at 3pm and arriving in the Saudi capital in 2 hours and 31 minutes. The journey also includes a 10-minute stopover at Majmaah.
The promotional fare has been fixed at SAR40 for adults, SAR20 for children and SAR4 for infants, according to media reports.
In phase two of the project, beginning April 2, the service will be operated on a daily basis, departing from Al Qassim at 5am and leaving from Riyadh at 6pm.
Meanwhile, under the project’s third phase, the line will be extended further north to Hail from Riyadh. The fourth phase will see the introduction of two overnight trains linking Riyadh with Majmaah, Al Qassim, Hail, Al Jouf and Al Qurrayat – covering a distance of over 1,242km.
All the six trains for the project are being supplied by CAF.
The day trains, which can travel at a speed of 200km/h, include nine air-conditioned passenger coaches with 444 seats – 120 in business class, 322 in economy and two wheelchair spaces.
The night trains, which can travel at 160km/h, feature 13 trailer coaches and can seat 377 passengers, including 92 sleeper berths.
All the trains have family sections, prayer areas and wifi access, according to reports, and can operate in high temperatures.
Eventually, the plan is to link Riyadh with Al Haditha land port at the Saudi-Jordanian border and also connect it with the Riyadh-Dammam railway line, Arab News reported.
The Gulf states are currently undertaking a joint GCC rail network that will link all the six members.
The project, which was initially targeting completion in 2018, will now take longer to complete, a senior official said late last year.
The 2,117 km railway line is expected to begin from Kuwait City and end in Muscat, with the total cost estimated at $15.4bn, according to reports.
According to officials, the project is expected to create more than 80,000 direct and indirect jobs.