Mohammed Al-Suwaiket, president of the Saudi Railway Organization (SRO), said that 50 percent of the Haramain Railway Project has been already completed, with no change in the train's course so far, he said.
"The contracting company employed for the second phase of the project has received parts of the project, which involves the area spanning King Abdullah Economic City to Madinah. They have already begun the process of installing cables and columns," said Al-Suwaiket.
He said that tracks would be laid out shortly.
Al-Suwaiket was speaking at a press conference held recently in Jeddah during the inauguration of the first training course of the Haramain Train Navigators, which was attended by officials and Spanish companies, which will implement the second phase of the project.
"There will be a trial run at the end of the next year, where 35 passenger trains will reach the Kingdom for operation. The first train will be directed to the Madinah workshop, which will be the assembling hub for trains," said Al-Suwaiket.
He said that the SRO set out a timetable for trains to reach their destinations once the infrastructure of the area, which extends from King Abdullah Economic City to Madinah, is completed.
"The positive impact of the project is not limited to providing a speedy means of transportation between Makkah and Madinah. Other advantages include the provision of job opportunities to Saudi graduates in the field of operating and maintenance of express trains," he said.
According to initial estimates, the project will need a huge number of workers in the engineering and administration fields. "About 70 percent of these jobs will be occupied by Saudi graduates," said Al-Suwaiket.
"The SRO aims for the Saudization (nationalization) of the transport industry in this industry in particular, which is a promising field of employment in the Kingdom."
Other employment opportunities to be generated by this project include maintenance, operation of trains, equipment and other facilities in the railway project. "We will meet demand for such jobs by offering specialized training courses at centers that will be established by the SRO."
The second phase of the Haramain Train project will involve a coalition to establish a training center in the Kingdom, which will be responsible for setting out training programs and rehabilitating staff to operate and drive the trains.
Al-Suwaiket said that jobs available for Saudis will include driving trains and supervising stations and control divisions.
The president of RENFE, the company which will operate the freight trains, said the company has tested 25 Saudis, who will form the first group of navigators.
"The test was carried out according to the evaluation standards followed by our company," said RENFE president.
RENFE operates 300 express trains in Spain, with more than half a century of expertise in the field.
The company's president said the training texts and syllables have been translated to both Arabic and English and that the first group of trainees will graduate at the end of October 2014.
Training plans include a theoretical course, which will take place in Saudi Arabia, followed by an operational and practical training period at training centers in Spain.