Thales, Saudi Railway Company sign maintenance contract

Two-year deal for 2,400km Northern Train to cover signalling and telecom systems and include knowledge transfer to Saudi teams


Saudi Arabia’s railway operator, Saudi Railway Company (SAR), has signed a two-year contract with transport technology provider Thales for the maintenance of signalling, telecommunication and electromechanical systems of the 2,400km Northern Train.

A statement from Thales said the contract also includes the transfer of knowledge to SAR human capital teams, which complies with the objectives of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 developmental project.

The Northern Train project in Saudi Arabia uses the ETCS Level 2 signalling and communications system and is the longest railway in the world to be so equipped, Thales claims. The project, currently in operation, involved the construction of 2,400km of track, sidings, yards, depots, stations and administrative facilities of its two lines, the statement added.

SAR transports passengers from the Saudi capital of Riyadh to Qurrayat in the north of the country. It is also used for heavy transport of minerals from the raw phosphates and bauxite mines in Saudi Arabia’s northern and central regions to the processing and export sites on the Arabian Gulf.

The maintenance activities will be performed by Thales through specialised engineers and technicians located across eight maintenance bases situated along the 2,400km of the line, said the company.

The contract includes the transfer of knowledge, which will be performed through a curriculum of training at Thales’ factories in the kingdom. This will allow SAR maintenance teams to gradually and efficiently take over the maintenance activities by the end of the two-year contract, the statement added.

In order to achieve the objectives of the contract, Thales has contributed in equipping and simulating the signalling and telecommunication systems in the Saudi Railway Polytechnic laboratories which will be used for the training programmes.

The Saudi Railway Polytechnic (SRP) was established in Buraidah city in the kingdom’s Qassim Province through a partnership between SAR and The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), to provide the Saudi teams with vocational and technical qualifications in signalling and telecommunications systems, rolling stock maintenance and train driving.

Jean-Yves Tolot, country director for Thales in Saudi Arabia, said: “Throughout its historic presence in the kingdom, the Group has developed very strong cooperation with local industries and universities to speed up the transfer of knowledge, know-how and capabilities. In line with ‘Saudi Vision 2030’ and National Transformation Program 2020 (NTP 2020), this project further illustrates Thales’ commitment to ensure the SAR maintenance (teams) are able to continue in their efforts long after our contract expires and contribute towards the kingdom’s success.

“This contract win further solidifies our footprint in the kingdom. Along with our partners, we have established a solid industrial network to provide maintenance and services to our customers in Saudi Arabia.”

In addition to the partnership with SAR for the deployment and maintenance of its railway network, Thales provides maintenance services to the Makkah Metro and Saudi Arabian Airlines in the kingdom.


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