Saudi rail institute gears up for influx of trainees
A new institute has opened in Buraidah, Saudi Arabia, to train staff for the Saudi Railway Company.
The Saudi Railway Polytechnic, run by a British institute, can accommodate up to 3,000 students between the ages of 19 and 23.
After completeing a two-week assessment, accepted students undertake courses over three years, covering railway disciplines, such as infrastructure and train operations, and English language training.
“We need a specialised cadre to go hand in hand with railway development,” said Muhammad Al-Suwaiket, president of the Saudi Railways Organisation. “There is need for scientific institutions to produce technicians, leaders and train supervisors, as well as engineers who specialise in all the various disciplines of the railways industry.”
He added that the Kingdom has a huge number of universities that need to accommodate such a discipline as a major for students since it is an independent science.
“This discipline can be subsumed under the civil, mechanical or electrical engineering majors depending on which aspect of the job candidates seek to specialise in. As such, it is unnecessary to open up separate colleges,” he said.
“The Ministry of Higher Education should look into this suggestion since the labour market is in need of specialised staff to cater to big railways projects. In fact, the project will need hundreds of engineers in this field.”
New train drivers undergo lengthy training courses that begin with abstract training courses for six months and then a training course on using communication devices for a further six months. Drivers then work as assistant commanders in the train squares during specific shifts in order to eventually become qualified.
“Even passing theory and practical exams, drivers can only be commanders of goods/merchandise freights on major railways. Only when they are evaluated by their superiors can they drive passenger trains. This takes around three to five years,” reported Al-Suwaiket.