Saudi railway chief sacked

Decision comes five days after train derailment

By Habib Toumi Bureau Chief
14:24 July 2, 2012

Manama: The head of the Saudi Railway Organisation (SRO) has been sacked five days after a Riyadh-bound train carrying 332 passengers derailed.

“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has issued a royal decree, removing Abdul Aziz Al Hoqail, president of Saudi Railway Organisation, from his position,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

No one was killed, but several people were injured when the train from Dammam to Riyadh derailed near Al Khurais junction, about 70km from the Saudi capital.

Railway authorities ordered an investigation shortly after the accident.

According to local daily Al Eqtisadiya, “The optical fibre cables that link the special control system of the railway tracks between Dammam and Riyadh had been stolen, resulting in the failure of the switching devices to respond to commands.”

The paper, quoting sources it did not name, said that Al Hoqail had cancelled his holidays in the United States to supervise the official investigations.

Hamed Al Abdul Qader, the acting SRO president, on Saturday attributed the cancellation of two trains running between Dammam and Riyadh to the malfunctioning of two power supply coaches that were damaged in the accident, Arab News reported.