Saudi Arabia train

Saudi Railways

There are three rail routes in Saudi Arabia, originally run by two different state-owned organisations, Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO) and Saudi Arabia Railways (SA).  These merged in February 2022 under the name Saudi Arabia Railways, www.sar.com.sa.

small bullet point  Riyadh - Dammam

small bullet point  Riyadh - Qassim - Hail -Jauf

small bullet point  Mecca - Jeddah - Medina

small bullet point  See detailed railway route map

small bullet point  Hotels in Saudi Arabia

small bullet point  Flights to Saudi

small bullet point  Travel insurance, Curve Card, VPN


Useful country information

Train operator:

Saudi Arabia Railways (SAR)  www.sar.com.sa.

The Haramain high-speed line has a separate website, www.hhr.sa.

 

Time zone:

GMT+3 all year

Dialling code:

 

+966

Currency:

1 = approx 4.6 Saudi Riyals.  $1 = approx 3.7 Saudi Riyals.     Currency converter

Tourist information:

See UK Foreign Office travel advice at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/saudi-arabia

Visas:

UK & most other nationals need a visa to visit Saudi Arabia.

Page last updated:

8 January 2024


Riyadh to Dammam

Originally run by Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO), but now all part of Saudi Arabia Railways, www.sar.com.sa (click En top left for English).  Riyadh to Dammam is 449 km, the line opened in 1981.  Dammam is close to Bahrain.

 Riyadh ► Dammam

Days of running: 

daily

daily

daily

Thur, Sat, Sun

daily

daily

daily

 Riyadh East Station (code RYD)

07:02

09:51

12:26

15:41

17:16

18:42

21:00

 Dammam

11:04

13:53

16:28

19:43

21:21

22:44

00:36

 Dammam ► Riyadh

Days of running: 

Thur, Sat, Sun

daily

daily

Thur, Sat

daily

daily

daily

 Dammam

04:31

07:52

12:07

11:43

16:30

17:57

19:23

 Riyadh East Station (code RYD)

08:34

11:54

16:11

15:03

20:11

22:00

23:36

Riyadh SRO station is close to the city centre, station code RYD.  Check the latest times at www.sar.com.sa.

How much does it cost?

Fares vary by date & demand.

One-way fare

Business class

Economy class

Riyadh - Dammam

From 145 riyals

From 85 riyals

How to buy tickets

What is the train like?

The Riyadh-Dammam trains are 5-car air-conditioned sets with a power car at one end and driving cab at the other.  Built by Spanish manufacturer CAF, these trains date from 2011-12.  The trains have Premium (1st) class and Standard (2nd) class, a cafe counter and even a prayer area.

Riyadh-Dammam train

The Riyadh-Dammam train.  Courtesy of Miika Nicholson.

1st class on the Riyadh-Dammam train   2nd class on Riyadh-Dammam train

Business.  Courtesy of Miika Nicholson.  Larger photo.

 

Economy. Courtesy Miika Nicholson. Larger photo.

Prayer area on Riyadh-Dammam train   Buffet car on Riyadh-Dammam train

Prayer area.  Courtesy of Miika Nicholson.

 

Buffet car.  Courtesy Miika Nicholson.

Riyadh East station

Riyadh station   Riyadh station

Riyadh East station.

 

Riyadh East.  Photos courtesy Miika Nicholson.

Riyadh station

Riyadh East station.  Courtesy Miika Nicholson.

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Riyadh to Qassim, Hail, Jauf

Business class on the train to Hail   Business class on the train to Hail

Riyadh North (KKIA) Station.  Miika Nicholson

 

Inside Riyadh North Station.  Miika Nicholson

Riyadh to Hail train at Riyadh KKIA station

The train to Hail at Riyadh North station. Courtesy of Timon91 on Flikr. Photos below courtesy of Miika Nicholson.

Interior of the train to Hail   Business class on train to Hail

Economy class.  Larger photo.

 

Business class.  Larger photo.

Interior of the train to Hail   Business class on train to Hail

Private 4-berth sleeper.  Larger photo.

 

Cafe car.  Larger photo.

Riyadh to Hail trains at Hail station

Trains at Hail station.  Photo courtesy of Philip Hilton

Traveller Philip Hilton reports:  "At Riyadh North station, the feeling is very much like an airport arrivals and departure area. From the taxi drop off you are straight into a spacious arrivals and departure atrium style area, there are coffee and restaurant facilities available and comfortable waiting areas. Something new to us as rail travellers was to check in our big cases, airport style in the departures area then head through security to the Business class lounge. Two adult Business Class returns cost us SAR 598.00 or 117.56 GBP, not bad for around ten hours of comfortable, return rail travel. Inside the lounge there are complementary sandwiches, tea and coffee (American and Arabic), water and comfortable seating with free wifi. The welcoming staff let you know when it's time to board and open a glass door directly next to the train so it's a short walk with your carry-on luggage. Complimentary sandwiches, water and orange juice were served at your seat along with Arabic coffee and dates. Trains are modern with leather seating which reclines back and supports your legs. There is a mix of seats with tables and airline seat styles. All the stations are identical pretty much in design with usually two platforms which makes finding your way around quite easy. |All in all a great and very enjoyable experience."

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Medina - Jeddah - Mecca

Train to Mecca at Jeddah Airport

The high-speed Talgo train to Mecca at Jeddah Airport.  Courtesy of www.wittli.de.

Interior of the train to Mecca   Train to Mecca at Jeddah Airport

Economy class on the train to Medina & Mecca.

Courtesy of www.wittli.deLarger photo.

 

The Talgo train at Medina station.

Courtesy of www.wittli.de.

Jeddah Airport station   Medina station

Jeddah Airport station.

Courtesy of www.wittli.de.

 

Medina station.

Courtesy of www.wittli.de.

Train at Medina station

The high-speed Talgo trains at Medina station.  Courtesy of www.wittli.de.

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Hotels in Saudi Arabia

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search: www.booking.com

Booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally use it to book all my hotels in one place.  I've come to trust booking.com's review scores, you won't be disappointed with any hotel that scores 8.0 or more.  Crucially, booking.com usually lets you book with free cancellation, which means you can confirm accommodation risk-free before train booking opens and/or you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when planning a trip.  I never book hotels non-refundably!

Backpacker hostels

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.

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Flights to Saudi Arabia

1)  Check flight prices at Opodo, www.opodo.com...

2)  Use Skyscanner to compare flight prices & routes worldwide across 600 airlines

skyscanner generic 728x90

3)  Lounge passes

Make the airport experience a little more bearable with a VIP lounge pass, it's not as expensive as you think!  See www.loungepass.com

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Travel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Columbus Direct logo

Always take out travel insurance

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least 1m or preferably 5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with Staysure.co.uk myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

UK flag  www.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag  www.columbusdirect.com is also a well-know brand.

US flag  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Maya.net logo

Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a mobile data package for the country you're visiting and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM card so you don't need to buy a physical SIM, including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility listMaya.net is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data.

 

Curve card

Curve card

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, 500 per month at time of writing.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:  1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than digging a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card, they'll give you 5 cashback through that link.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  Why you need a VPN

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I get a small commission to help support this site.

 

Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, vaccination records and Interrail or Eurail passes are often held digitally on your mobile phone, so it's vital to keep it charged.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over if I can't get to a power outlet.  Buy from Amazon.co.uk or from Buy from Amazon.com.


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