Interview: Abdullah Al Mogbel
What steps are being taken to achieve the Kingdom’s national and regional railway development goals?
ABDULLAH AL MOGBEL: The Kingdom is updating and developing its railway network and aims to modernise existing lines, locomotives, carriages, and operation and maintenance systems, while also expanding the network with new railways connecting other cities and areas.
Among these projects is the Two Holy Mosques Express Train, linking Makkah, Jeddah and Medina, and the North-South Railway, which will have two lines: one will serve the mining areas in north, connecting them to Ras Al Khair Port in the Gulf, while the other will link Riyadh, Al Qassim, Hail and Al Jouf, reaching up to the Northern Borders region. This project is being carried out by the Saudi Railway Company.
In addition, designs determining the route for the Saudi Landbridge are almost complete. This will be followed by a presentation of the financial and technical study, supported by cooperation between the Saudi Railways Organisation and an office specialising in updating the strategic plan to cover more provinces and regions of the Kingdom. This plan will be implemented in three phases, starting in 2015 and running up to 2030.
With regards to linking these projects to the planned GCC Railway, detailed designs are currently being developed in the Kingdom in full coordination and cooperation with the other Gulf countries in order to specify the connection points and lines.
How can residents and citizens be encouraged to make use of public transportation?
AL MOGBEL: There is no doubt that encouraging citizens and residents to use public transport is important. We plan to do this by assuring them that it is safe, comfortable and designed to meet their transport needs with ease and convenience. Providing well-equipped public transport services, which will be fully integrated with other means of transit, will satisfy people’s desires and help them to avoid traffic congestion. We are seeking to provide high-quality transport services at a reasonable price. To this end, the Ministry of Transport has conducted several studies in the Kingdom’s main cities to determine how best to develop public transport systems, as well as gain a better understanding of their role within a larger transport network, including private transit options.
Once we develop the network, we will seek to encourage citizens to increasingly use public transport in their daily lives. We will clarify the advantages of public transit and raise citizens’ awareness of its benefits to the community and individuals alike. We plan to emphasise the service quality and the availability of roads dedicated only to buses, which will be faster than cars, along with the availability of customised parking in some areas. Meanwhile, we will also point out the disadvantages of private means of transport, including higher operating and maintenance costs.
What measures have been taken to improve Saudi ports and enhance Customs procedures?
AL MOGBEL: The Saudi Ports Authority (SPA) has taken several measures to improve the services provided at ports, the most important of which is the launch of e-services, which will facilitate procedures for beneficiaries of Saudi ports. A good example of this is the launch of the container inquiries service via the SPA website. This service saves both time and effort for customers, as they no longer need to be present at the port to inquire about the status of their containers.
The SPA is working to continuously improve all Saudi ports, especially the commercial ones. In order to develop Saudi ports in line with the highest international standards, great emphasis is being placed on applying emerging technologies in the field of maritime transport as the ports are being developed. It should be noted that a master plan has been completed for the Kingdom’s ports on both the east and west coasts, including several new development projects that will be carried out over the next 20 years in order to boost the Kingdom’s regional and global competitiveness.
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