CAF train for Saudi Railways Organization on test in the Czech Republic (Photo: Quintus Vosman)

SAUDI ARABIA: The first of eight fixed-formation diesel trainsets which Saudi Railways Organization ordered from CAF in July 2008 is now undergoing trials at the VUZ testing centre at Velim in the Czech Republic.

The 180 km/h push-pull trainset is formed of five 26·8 m long passenger coaches and single-cab 22·3 m long diesel-electric power car with a 3 600 kW MTU engine.

There is 2+1 seating for 94 first class passengers in the driving car and second coach, with 2+2 seats for 192 second class passengers in the other vehicles. The driving trailer includes a luggage compartment. The centre coach has two wheelchair spaces, along with a buffet counter, conductor's compartment and a prayer room where an interactive screen continually displays an arrow pointing towards Makkah.

Getting the train to Velim was not easy, as at 3 050 mm wide and 4 570 mm high the vehicles do not fit European loading gauges. CAF had intended to ship them by barge to Cerhenice via the Elbe river, but low water levels meant it was not possible to get further upstream than Magdeburg. The train was therefore offloaded and hauled to Velim by German private operator OHE, but it took more than a month to get approval for the out-of-gauge movement.

The train is expected to remain at the test centre for the rest of this year.