Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — A royal order issued Sunday by King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, relieved Abdul Aziz Al-Huqail from his responsibilities as president of the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO).
No one has yet been named to replace Al-Huqail.
In May last year, Al-Huqail’s services as SRO chief were extended by four years.
Al-Huqail cut short his vacation in the US and returned to the Kingdom when a Riyadh-bound train derailed last week, injuring about 35 passengers. Reports in local media Sunday quoted sources as saying that the accident occurred because power cables on the railway tracks had been stolen.
The sources said that there was no way that technicians, operators or the train’s conductor could have avoided the accident as the signaling and communications systems were affected by the theft.
Sources said the SRO and the General Commission of Railway Safety formed an investigation team and probed the train’s conductor and his assistant about the accident. The commission is in charge of ensuring that safety procedures are enforced and complied with at all railway stations in the Kingdom. It also investigates railway accidents, issues reports in this regard and makes recommendations for safer operations.
During the investigation, the driver and his assistant said that the control room in Dammam gave them the go-ahead to continue traveling to Riyadh non-stop. They were told that the opposite train coming from Riyadh will travel on a different route.
“The train driver was traveling at normal speeds before he was surprised to see that the railway detour was not right and this caused the train to flip over sideways,” the commission added.
Muhammad Abu Zaid, director of public relations in the organization, also had to cut short his vacation and return to the Kingdom. Abu Zaid said many people were misinterpreting technical failures on some of the new trains the SRO is testing. “We need to realize that the new trains are still being tested and have not been fully operated. It’s not right to blame the SRO for technical failures and accuse those in charge of squandering public money.”