Saudi Railways Organization

Saudi Railways Organization
Native name
المؤسسة العامة للخطوط الحديدية
Founded 13 May 1966 (1966-05-13)
Headquarters Dammam railway station, Fatema Al Zahra St, Abdullah Fuad, Dammam, Saudi Arabia
Key people
  • Abdullah Bin Abdulrahman Al-Muqbil (Chairman)
  • Rumaih Mohamed Alrumaih (President)
Revenue SAR 535 million[1] (2014)

The Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) is one of two state-owned companies that operates Saudi Arabia's rail network. The SRO operates a network of railways with a total length of approximately 1,380 kilometers. The network consists of two main lines. A 449 km passenger line that links Dammam with Riyadh, and a 556 km freight line that connects the King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam with Riyadh In addition, about 373 km of auxiliary lines branch from SRO's main lines and connect some industrial and agricultural areas, and military sites, with export ports and residential areas.

There are plans to extend the network to the Red Sea port of Jeddah and, eventually to the borders of Jordan, Yemen, and perhaps all the way to Egypt.[2]


The first railway in modern Saudi Arabia was the Hejaz Railway, from the border of Jordan to Medina. This 1,050 mm (3 ft 5 1132 in) narrow gauge railway opened in 1908, but closed in 1920.

Modern railways were introduced in Saudi Arabia after World War II, to facilitate the transport of goods for the Arabian American Oil Company, or Aramco (now Saudi Aramco), from ports located on the coast of the Arabic Gulf to warehouses in Dhahran. Construction began in September 1947, and the first line was inaugurated on 20 October 1951. It was initially run by Aramco, but subsequently transferred to the Ministry of Finance, during which time it was known as the Railway Department. On 13 May 1966, the Saudi government issued a royal decree establishing the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) to operate the railway system. Several development projects have been completed since then, including an extension of the line to Riyadh, construction of several passenger terminals and the opening of a dry port in Riyadh.[3]


Rail transport map of Saudi Arabia. SRO operated on the red line.
Riyadh Station

The SRO operates a network of railways with a total length of approximately 1,380 kilometers. Two main lines connect King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam with Riyadh, while the other connects the city of Dammam with Riyadh. In addition, some auxiliary lines branch from SRO's main lines connect some industrial and agricultural areas and military sites with export ports and residential areas.[4] The network consists of the following lines:

Dammam-Riyadh line

Main article: Dammam-Riyadh Line

The Dammam-Riyadh line is a 449 kilometer passenger line that connects Dammam with Riyadh, via Al-Ahsa and Abqaiq.

Cargo line

The cargo line is a 556 kilometer line that begins at the King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam and passes through Al-Ahsa, Abqaiq, Al-Kharj, Haradh and Al-Tawdhihiyah, before terminating in Riyadh.

Planning for the line started in 1947 with an agreement between King Ibn Saud and ARAMCO to lay a 547 km (about 340 mi) freight line. Bechtel Construction Company was chosen to build the rail line and a sea port at the eastern end of the rail line at Dammam. Construction of the line began in September 1947. In 1948, veteran American railroad engineer James H. Gildea was hired to oversee the project. The most serious obstacle to building the rail line was the Persian Gulf shallows at Dammam. To allow deep draft vessels to unload, a rail causeway of approximately seven miles was built out into the Persian Gulf with the first five miles a rock causeway and the last couple of miles a section made of a steel trestle. One of the first vessels to unload was a Dutch freighter, in 1950, with a load of rails for construction of the line. The first trains started moving between Dammam and Riyadh in the early 1950s.[5]

Branch lines

Branch lines have a total length of 373 kilometers, and connect some industrial and agricultural production sites, and some military sites, with export ports and some residential areas.

Rolling stock

The SRO's fleet consists of 102 diesel locomotives and 75 passenger cars. These are classified into 12 cars of Al-Rehab class with a capacity of 540 seats, 9 cars of Al-Taleaa class with a capacity of 652 seats, 25 cars of Al-Qafila class with a capacity of 2,012 seats along with 2 special-class cars, 8 diner cars, 12 luggage and power generation cars and 1 car that has been specially fitted as an ambulance car to enhance safety. The company has 2,596 cargo cars of different sizes and types, including 858 cars for double stacking of containers, 948 regular cars for containers, 201 cement transportation cars, 135 grain hauling cars, 47 flatbeds for transporting vehicles and 60 cars for hauling rocks. The capacity of each double stacking cargo car is 80 tons. Regular cars for containers have a capacity of 50 tons. The total capacity of cargo handling by both types of cars in SRO is 48,250 tons.[6]

Spanish manufacturer CAF has in delivered 2012 delivered eight fast diesel locomotives, with one driving van trailer passenger car and four other passenger cars, with a leading power car unit; plus two spare power cars. They are used on the Dammam–Riyadh Line. During 2013 the travel time is 4:15 but there is a target of 3:00 for the future.

Class Image Top speed Number Remarks Built
mph km/h
EMD SW1200 5 Diesel-electric locomotives. Series 1022-1026[7] 1950-60
Class 2400 50 80 7 Secondhand Diesel-electric locomotives taken over from NS by Volker Stevin in 1976 for construction works for a seaport in Jubail. Former 2427, 2445, 2485, 2497, 2499, 2519, 2523. Renumbered into 101-107. Sold to Archirodon for rail reconstruction between Damman and Riyadh and renumbered to 276-04 - 276-09. Some scrapped in 1983. Others active until 1994 and stored in Hofuf afterwards.[8] 1954-56
EMD GP18 Diesel-electric locomotives. 1200[7]
EMD FP7A 2 Diesel-electric locomotives taken over from Arabian American Oil Company (there 1006-1007).[9]
EMD SD38-2 6 Series 2004-2009. Order 778050. Diesel-electric locomotives[10] 1978
EMD SD50 Diesel-electric locomotives[11]
EMD SD70ACS 25 Diesel-electric locomotives for a mineral railway[12] 2010
CAF 112 180 8 Passenger Units & 10 Power Cars (5001-5010) Passenger Trainsets with dedicated Power Cars. 2011
Class 319.2 75 120 >4 (Series 319.)Diesel-electric locomotives bought second hand.[13]


The SRO has several plans to expand the network as part of the Saudi Railway Master Plan 2010-2040 (SRMP). Some of the projects under the plan are:

See also


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