Saudi Arabia launched on Thursday the first batch of investment packages in the railway sector, with a value of one billion riyals ($266 million).
Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh Bin Nasser Al-Jasser inaugurated the Railway Industrial Opportunities Forum, an event held under the auspices of the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program.
In a speech on the occasion, the minister said that the forum will see the launch of the first package of economic and industrial opportunities, with investments exceeding one billion riyals (266.6 million dollars), which will provide a qualitative advantage and an added value to the transport sector and to other vital economic segments in the Kingdom.
He said the forum aims to consolidate partnerships between the public and private sectors and develop the railway infrastructure, in line with the railway sector’s plans, which seek to open the market to new operators, and increase the participation of the private sector in freight operations, passenger trips and assets.
The event comes a year after the restructuring of the railway sector in the Kingdom under the Saudi Railway Company (SAR), the minister noted.
He unveiled plans to increase its railways by over 8,000 kilometers, to build local and regional connection, double transport capacity, and adopt modern technology to reduce the environmental impact of transport.
For his part, the CEO of SAR, Dr. Bashar Al-Malik, explained that the industrial opportunities offered in the forum came to meet the local need, stressing the company’s determination to overcome all challenges in partnership with all government sectors and take the necessary decisions towards the localization of the railway industry.
Al-Malik urged the private sector to invest these opportunities as basic partners in a vital and promising sector, stressing that the localization of the railway industry was no longer an option but rather “a strategic goal that we strive to achieve with determination.”
In this regard, he emphasized that the SAR was striving to encourage international manufacturers to build partnerships with a number of local factories for the purpose of knowledge sharing and technology transfer. This has contributed to increasing the proportion of local content by more than 41 percent of the SAR’s total revenues, with a value exceeding 1.5 billion riyals.