Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia resumes railway travel with Riyadh-Damman train

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Saudi Arabia has resumed passenger railway travel as it eases out of lockdown restrictions on movement aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

The Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) resumed its trips on Sunday with two passenger trains on its Riyadh-Damman line, reported the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Damman station with passengers on the platform. (File photo: SRO)
Damman station with passengers on the platform. (File photo: SRO)

The first trip took 143 passengers from the capital Riyadh to Damman, a port city in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, with over 99 percent of the seats occupied according to SPA. The return trip took 118 passengers from Damman to Riyadh.

SRO is one of Saudi Arabia’s two state-owned railways companies, the other being the Saudi Railway Company (SAR). SRO operates two main lines: the 449 kilometer Riyadh-Damman passenger line, and a freight line that connects Damman’s port with Riyadh. SAR operates the North-South line that connects Riyadh to the Kingdom’s northern border with Jordan via the city of Hai’l. SAR also resumed its services on Sunday.

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Damman passenger station. (SRO)
Damman passenger station. (SRO)
SAR freight train. (SAR)
SAR freight train. (SAR)

The Kingdom eases restrictions

The move comes as the Kingdom entered the second stage of its plan to ease gradually out of lockdown.

From Sunday onwards, free movement is permitted between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. except in Mecca, provided residents follow social distancing rules and guidelines. In other hours, a permit from the official “Tawakkalna” app is required.

Travel across provincial borders in a private car had been permitted since Thursday, but on Sunday it was expanded to include any means of transport. The government also lifted the suspension on domestic flights lifted.
Since Sunday, employees in non-vital sectors are permitted to work from their offices, provided they follow precautionary guidelines.

Social gatherings of more than 50 and activities in which social distancing cannot be practiced remain banned. International flights and travel for the Islamic pilgrimage of Umrah are also prohibited until further announcement.

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SAR passenger train map (SAR)
SAR passenger train map (SAR)
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