Jeddah — Thirty-one Saudi women selected for training earlier this year have started their cab driving apprenticeship.
Their training to become Saudi Arabia’s first female train driver is on the Haramain High-Speed Train. The Haramain High Speed operates between Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah.
They started their practical training after completing the first phase of their training, which was theoretical.
The 31 women are joining experienced train drivers in the cab over the coming five to six months as part of the second phase of their training.
Since the training program began in March, the group has completed a total of 483 hours of theoretical training, including basic railway knowledge, traffic and safety regulations, work hazards, firefighting, and technical aspects related to the train and railway infrastructure.
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The Spanish Company Renfe, the largest shareholder in the consortium managing the High-Speed Rail, and the Saudi Railway Polytechnic (SRP) are responsible for the training effort and have trained more than 130 Saudi nationals over the past nine years.
A job advertisement by Renfe to recruit 30 women to train drivers in Saudi Arabia had an overwhelming response from across the Kingdom.
Nearly 28,000 women applied for the opportunity to drive a train. Of that group, 145 were called for interviews, and 34 of these were selected for the first phase of training.
Of the 31 that passed the theoretical part of the training, 70 percent have a university degree. That percentage is only 30 percent for the male interns in the current hiring and training phase.
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By the end of December, the women trainees will begin driving trains between Saudi cities on their own after passing all the tests and training.
The future phases will increase the number of Saudi men and women train drivers. Demand for train travel will grow significantly during the next few years, especially during the Hajj and Umrah seasons.