Saudi Arabia readies design for 958km ‘Landbridge’ rail project– linking Jeddah and Riyadh

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BE2C2 Report — Saudi Arabia has completed the detailed design of its $7 billion 958-km Landbridge railway project which will link the country’s major cities Jeddah and Riyadh – the first rail link between the Red Sea and the Gulf.

The state-owned Public Investment Fundin 2013 had signed a SR 270 ($ 72) million contract with Fluor, a US company, to provide management consultancy, Arab News report said.

Fluor was contracted to oversee the work of the contractors and experimental operation of the railway project over a period of 84 months, according to the Saudi Press Agency, the paper cited.

To be developed on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) scheme, the Saudi Land Bridge project will transform the existing rail network in the kingdom into a world-class freight and passenger rail link across the country.

It will have the capability to move large quantities of cargo over long distances at competitive rates and will offer safe and comfortable overland passenger transport.

The railway will connect the port cities of Jeddah, Dammam and Jubail and will pass through the capital city Riyadh and serve its dry port.

“We have finished the design … we anticipate also building this project. This will most likely have a private-partnership participation building it and operating it,” Rumaih Al Rumaih, the chief of Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) was quoted as saying.

He was speaking on the sidelines of Middle East Rail conference in Dubai, UAE.

The kingdom is likely to rely on public-private partnerships to build some of its major new metro and train projects, including the Saudi Land Bridge intercity train development, he stated.

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Al Rumaih said the Makkah Metro project, which had been facing a lot of delays, had been negotiated and that it would likely be awarded on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis.

The metro project was expected to be awarded last year, but like many of the kingdom’s major proposed infrastructure projects it was placed on hold pending the introduction of the new national project management office, which the US-based construction firm Bechtel was appointed to run last month, he was quoted as saying in the report.

“The same thing applies for Jeddah, Dammam and Madinah [metro projects],” he added.

On the Riyadh Metro, the SRO chief said the work on the $22.5 billion project was currently 48 per cent complete and was due for handover in two years.

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