SAUDI Arabia Railways (SAR) and the University of Birmingham have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see experts from the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) working with SAR to deliver specialised railway education for its employees.

In addition, the agreement will seek out opportunities for joint research and development programmes that will leverage the unique expertise of each organisation.

SAR is the largest state-owned railway in the Middle East, with ambitious and growth plans for both its passenger and freight businesses over the next five years. These include plans for a line connecting the capital Riyadh with the eastern provinces.

BCRRE is the largest specialist railway research, education and innovation centre in Europe, with extensive industry and academic links around the globe. An active member of the European Rail Clusters Initiative, it is also the lead university in the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN).

“SAR has an ambitious growth strategy, which we are very excited to be supporting,” says BCRRE director, Professor Clive Roberts. “Together we can ensure access to expertise, cutting-edge technology, and a pipeline of next- generation engineers that will secure a robust future for the industry in Saudi Arabia.”

“The launch of SAR's five-year strategy in 2020 made it essential for SAR to build a national pool of talent for its various functions,” says SAR human resources and support services general manager, Mr Abdulrahman Turkistani. “This will ensure that SAR can achieve and go beyond its ambitious targets. We chose the University of Birmingham as our partner to deliver their world-class technical railway education to our national talent pool.”