The Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) is a state-owned company that operates Saudi Arabia's rail network. SRO provides freight services on two main lines totalling 1018 km. These connect Riyadh with the port of Dammam on the coast of the Persian Gulf. SRO passenger trains operate between Riyadh and Dammam. 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
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 11⁄32 in) narrow gauge railway opened in 1908, but was shut down in 1915. Modern railways were introduced in Saudi Arabia after World War II, to facilitate the transport of goods to ARAMCO (Now Saudi Aramco) from ports located on the coast of the Persian Gulf to warehouses in Dhahran. Construction started in October 1947 and the first line was inaugurated on October 20, 1951. It was initially run by Aramco, but subsequently transferred to the state and since 1968 has been operated as a public corporation. 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.
The Saudi rail network consist of the following main lines:
- Line 1: Dammam - Abqaiq - Hofuf - Riyadh (449.11 km), used by passenger trains.
- Line 2: Dammam - Abqaiq - Hofuf - Haradh - Al Kharj - Riyadh (555.951 km), used by freight trains
Note: Despite the tracks of both lines running parallel on the same alignment between Dammam and Hofuf, they are operated as separate lines.
- Dammam Port Line (12.854 km)
The link to Jordan is defunct.
Saudi Railways Expansion Programme
SRO is planning to expand the network. Projects include:
- The Saudi Landbridge, a 945 km line from Riyadh to Jeddah and a 115 km line from Dammam and Jubail, connecting the Persian Gulf with the Red Sea.
- The North South Railway from Riyadh via Buraidah, Hail and Al Jawf to Al Haditha, with a branch to Ras Azzwar on the coast of the Persian Gulf and some minor branches to bauxite and phosphate mines. This will mainly be for mineral transport, but general freight and passenger transport is also planned.
- The Haramain High Speed Rail Project or Western Railway linking Mecca and Medina, and connecting with the network at Jeddah. This will provide a safe and comfortable means of transport for Hajj pilgrims arriving via Jeddah. Construction works is due to start in March 2009 and 320 km/h electric trains are planned.