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Siemens wins Saudi trains bid

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Photo: Siemens
15:36 CET+01:00
Saudi Arabia has ordered a new range of Austrian-built metro trains with three different classes to make sure passengers know their place.

Gold-coloured seats adorn the first class section of the trains, which is almost exclusively for men of a higher class and rank.

Then there is a "family class" which is for women if they are being accompanied by a man, a husband or a family member, as well as children.

And then after that there is a "worker class" in which mostly single men who do not have a significant status or class are allowed to travel.

The trains have been designed so that although it is technically possible to go from the first class to the family class, presumably so the men in first-class might speak with their wives or children, the section to the third class part of the carriage is closed, giving them no access to the rest of the train.

Unveiling the new trains which are being created by Siemens in Austria, the firm explained that this was to stop the men travelling from peering through and looking at the women on the other side. It can only be opened in an emergency such as a fire.

The first class seats are noticeably larger than all the others, as well as the gold cover while the family class and third class have silver and red coloured seats. But in the case of the third class section, there are only a few, with most of the carriage comprising standing room only.

The trains have been designed to drive themselves meaning the question of whether the driver is a man or woman would not ever occur. The plan is for the trains to travel through tunnels or over huge bridges all the way through the Saudi capital Riyadh, which at the moment despite its size has no metro network.

It is being designed so that there is no need for the trains to turn around, with the lines in circles so that the last station is also the first in the city of 6.5 million.

The trains being built in Austria are part of a 1.5 billion-EUR (1.1 billion-GBP) contract Siemens has to construct six metro lines covering 175 km (109 miles) in total. The subcontractor is the American firm Bechtel. The project in total is worth 25.4 billion EUR (20 billion GBP), according to Riyadh Metro project manager Alwalid Alekrish.

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The trains are being completed in Austria at the company's factories in Vienna and Graz, and also being fitted with extra strong air-conditioning. They are also arranging for the trains to have extra measures to protect against sand.

The aim is for the new metro to help the environment, improve infrastructure and generate jobs.

Story courtesy of Central European News

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