Interview: Nabeel Al Amoudi

What sectors will benefit most directly from the integration of road and rail networks?

NABEEL AL AMOUDI: Integration provides more options in terms of mobility and transportation, and this has a positive impact on the movement of goods across a variety of sectors in the country. In particular, the petrochemical, mining, defence, manufacturing, heavy industries and other industrial sectors will all be able to take advantage of this integration and achieve greater commercial and time-related savings. By reducing the amount of time spent on inter-city roadways, fuel consumption will be cut back and greater efficiencies will be achieved, thus having a positive effect on both the national economy and society at large.

In 2018 the Saudi Railway Company transported around 9m tonnes of metals, which ordinarily would have required a huge amount of heavy goods vehicles to carry all the materials. Instead, hundreds of thousands of litres of diesel fuel were saved, and harmful emissions, road erosion, maintenance costs and the number of accidents were also reduced.

What ancillary services are needed to support the expansion of national airport facilities?

AL AMOUDI: Several additional services are needed in order to complement the expansion of the Kingdom’s airport facilities and the increasing volume of passenger traffic. These include ground services, baggage handling, airport operations, facilities management, public transportation services and special airports systems. The General Authority for Civil Aviation is also working on converting domestic airports that receive international flights into wholly international airports licensed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

In addition, five new airports will be constructed in Al Qurayyat, Al Qunfudhah, Fursan, Hail and Taif, as part of the recently announced National Industrial Development and Logistics Programme. These new airports are to be designed in accordance with a Unified Airports Model Plan, which takes into consideration passport control, Customs areas, and the origin of international flights. In 2018, an annual growth rate of 7.6% in passenger traffic was achieved, with more than 99m passengers being serviced by the Kingdom’s airports.

How can the privatisation of rail services increase efficiencies and lower operational costs?

AL AMOUDI: The private sector is more flexible in terms of its management and operation. This is why the government seeks to further include the private sector in its operations, management activities and investments, with rail services being no exception. As is reflected in Vision 2030, the Kingdom is increasingly relying on the private sector and giving it a greater degree of responsibility with regard to the implementation and management of development projects. By 2020, we aim for privately owned companies to participate in the development and operation of at least 5% of road networks, 50% of rail networks and 70% of the Kingdom’s port operations.

How are the authorities promoting uptake in the use of public transport?

AL AMOUDI: In collaboration with many other municipal authorities, the Public Transport Authority (PTA) is promoting the development of a modern bus network within medium- and large-sized cities across the Kingdom. In March 2018 the PTA launched a campaign aimed at encouraging the adoption of a public transport culture in Saudi Arabia. This campaign was launched together with a modern fleet of bus services in Riyadh and Jeddah, designed to replace an informal and antiquated service. The new bus fleet, coupled with the campaign, delivers the message that public transport is safe, has a positive impact on the economy and the environment, and reduces traffic congestion. The outcome of this campaign has been very successful, with millions of passengers now using the bus networks.