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I've had a varied week or two, mostly office based although there have been a couple of trips out to see railway installations in action. The first of these was to the PNU automated people mover. This is the internal system at the ladies-only university in Riyadh. (PNU stands for Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University).  I had mentioned the system in an earlier blog. This time the visit was on a Saturday to witness an emergency exercise. As there were ladies involved in the exercise I was confined to the control room, which is inside the depot and manned only by men, and does not even have CCTV to see what is going on at stations or in the trains. Communication between the control room was by radio to the female station staff and response teams. The position of the trains was visible on the signalling digram. ATO is in use and the controllers only intervene when there is a problem. After the exercise was over, and we were assured that all ladies were off the system, I was invited to take an evening tour of the network.

It is operated by a fleet of 22 2-car trains on an elevated circle which goes around the academic campus and main mosque. There are two branches off the circle, one leading to the student quarters, and the other leading to the married staff quarters. Even so, the married quarters are in their own enclave and the husbands are not allowed to use the system. There are 60,000 students and staff at the Uni, so presumably it is quite busy during the week. Construction of the new Riyadh Metro system (6 lines) is making progress across the city, and there will be a metro station that serves the PNU and connection will be via an elevated walkway with a security point incorporated. This was visible from the PNU system.


PNU train and network

The second visit was back to the Hajj metro in Mecca for a day to witness the final integrated emergency exercise prior to the Hajj proper, which starts on 8th (or maybe 9th) of September. The reason for the uncertainty is the vagaries of the Islamic Hirji calendar, again explained in a previous blog. Either way, I will be there for the week undertaking a monitoring role to ensure the metro operator performs within ts safety management system. More on that after the event.

Finally, one for the ladies. With my wife and three daughters in our household, I am occasionally told how lucky I am that I am a man because I don't have to go through the (self-inflicted) torture of de-waxing to remove unwanted hair. Well, I had a new experience this week. At the Turkey Barber in Riyadh for a periodic haircut, I asked the man to tidy up ear and nose hair. This he did, not using the scissors as I expected, or even with the naked flame the Turks seem to like, but by using tweezers and pulling each hair out one by one. Uncomfortable yes, torture, no. So what's all the fuss, girls?   

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