SAUDI Arabia’s Ministry of Investment has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Alstom to discuss investment opportunities in the transport sector and to look at the possibility of the supplier establishing its regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia.

The MoU, signed in the presence of undersecretary of the ministry, Mr Fahad Al-Naheen, aims to explore the future of sustainable transport in the country and identify investment opportunities in the public transport sector relating to rail infrastructure, sustainable transport technologies and reducing carbon emissions in line with the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Under its Vision 2030 programme, Saudi Arabia intends to build an additional 10,000km of main line railways and metro lines by 2030 to meet public demand for better transport, relieve traffic congestion, improve residents’ health and quality of life and meet decarbonisation targets. Other aims are to reduce dependence on oil, diversify the economy and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism.

By 2024, Saudi Arabia is expected to have spent over $US 48bn on rail projects, at the forefront of which is the Riyadh Metro, the world’s largest single-phase metro system project. Lines 4, 5 and 6 have been built by Alstom and partner organisations, with Alstom supplying 69 metro trains and Urbalis signalling. Alstom has also implemented Harmonic Energy Saver (HESOP) technology, whereby current produced by trains during regenerative braking is recovered for use elsewhere, reducing operating costs, cutting carbon emissions and decreasing power consumption.