May 14, 2012

Saudi Railways Organisation withdraws new CAF trains

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MR Abdul Aziz Al-Hugail, president of Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO), has cast doubt over the future of the railway's deal with CAF for 200km/h diesel trains following a series of malfunctions just one month after the first five trains entered service.

Al-Hugail told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that two of the five trains have suffered from repeated technical defects and that the railway has since withdrawn all five sets "to safeguard the rights of SRO and its reputation as well as the safety of passengers." SRO awarded CAF a Euros 105m contract in 2008 for eight 200km/h trains, placing a subsequent order for four additional trains earlier this year. However, Al-Hugail says that if the problems continue the railway may have to consult its lawyers.

"SRO's financial rights will be protected either through obtaining compensation for the damage caused or revoking the purchase deal altogether if the technical glitch continues even after undertaking the repair works," Al-Hugail says. "SRO has so far neither taken delivery of the trains formally nor paid the amount in full. We paid only 55% of the value of the purchase deal."

Technical problems with the trains reportedly include air-conditioning system malfunctions, as well as problems with the engine, fuel pump, and electricity supply. According to Okaz/Saudi Gazette initial checks by CAF's team found faults with the train's programming system which needs to be adjusted to suit the local environment.

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