By Andy Sambidge
Saudi Railroads official says investigation launched into accident 70km from Riyadh
A number of passengers have been injured in a train derailment in Saudi Arabia, an official said on Wednesday.
Saudi Railroads Organisation said that one person was seriously injured in the accident on the country’s only passenger line and had been taken to hospital by air ambulance.
The train was carrying 332 passengers, a statement issued by Saudi Railroads Organisation said, adding that an investigation into the cause of the accident was underway. Reports said that a total of 35 passengers had been hurt in the incident
Mohammed Yasin Bo Hulaiqah, acting director of the its Public Relations Department, said in comments published by the official Saudi news agency that the train's locomotive and three carriages turned over.
He added that the incident happened 70km away from Riyadh, leading to the closure of the railway track and the suspension of all services from Riyadh on Wednesday.
The railway line, inaugurated in 1951, was initially run by Saudi oil company, Aramco, but subsequently transferred to the state and since 1968 has been operated as a public corporation and was extended to the capital, Riyadh.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia signed a contract worth SR30.8bn ($8.2bn) with a Spanish consortium to build a high-speed railway connecting Islam's holiest cities, Makkah and Madinah, with the port city of Jeddah.
Al-Shoula consortium, which comprises Spanish companies including ADIF, RENFE and Talgo, won the project last year after a long bidding process in which it competed with a French-led group.