Saudi Railway Company (SAR) has entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chinese tech firm Huawei to initiate smart railway programme.

Under the partnership, SAR and Huawei will collaborate on a range of smart railway initiatives, including the application of a next-generation railway wireless network, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud services.

According to local media reports, the partners will also explore the idea of deploying 5G technology across the SAR rail network.

As per the agreement, Huawei will train SAR staff and transfer knowledge for information and communications technology (ICT) solutions.

Huawei Tech Investment Saudi Arabia chief executive Dennis Zhang said: “This is a major infrastructure project that will have a significant impact on the country, and we are honoured to have been selected as a partner to bring our technology into making this vision a reality.”

Established in 2006, SAR is one of two state-owned companies to operate Saudi Arabia’s railway network.

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In February, the company awarded a contract to Perpetuum to provide track condition information services for the 1250km-long rail line from Riyadh to Qurrayat.

With the two-year contract, SAR aims to procure real-time information on railway tracks. Saudi Arabian railway faces extreme weather conditions, with temperatures reaching up to 55°C.

Last month, Huawei introduced the next-generation LTE-R Solution to facilitate wireless rail communications. The technology, leveraging the LTE-R network, will enable train control, dispatching, passenger information system, CCTV and other rail services to communicate efficiently.