Pioneering Saudi female train drivers embark on their first journeys
The group of Saudi women that began their training earlier in the year to become Saudi Arabia’s first female train drivers, has started its cab apprenticeship on the Haramain high-speed train’s (HHR).
According to Spanish company Renfe, the largest shareholder in the consortium managing the high-speed line between Mecca and Medina, the 31 women will be joining experienced train drivers in the cab for the coming five to six months as part of the second phase of their training.
Since the training programme first began in March, the group has completed 483 hours worth of theoretical training, including basic railway knowledge, traffic and safety regulations, as well as technical courses. Renfe and the Saudi Railway Politechnic (SRP) are responsible for the training effort and together have trained more than 130 Saudi nationals over the past nine years.
The call for female train drivers in Saudi Arabia sent shockwaves across the kingdom, and around 28,000 women jumped on the opportunity to potentially drive a train. Of that group, 145 were selected for in-person interviews and only 34 made it to the first phase of training.
Of the 31 that passed the theoretical part of the training, 70 percent has a university degree. That percentage is only 30 percent for the male interns taking part in the current hiring and training phase.