Haramain Railway project on right track: Al-Seraisry
FAIZ AL-MAZROUI |
DAMMAM: The contract for
implementing the final phase of the Haramain Railway project will be
awarded by the end of this year, Transport Minister Jabara
Al-Seraisry said Wednesday.
"We’ll study the financial and
technical offers made by companies vying to win the contract before
the end of this year to announce the winner," the minister told
The railway linking Makkah,
Madinah and Jeddah would bring about a dramatic improvement in the
transportation of pilgrims between the two holy cities. It will
reduce travel time between Jeddah and Makkah to half an hour and two
hours for those traveling between Jeddah and Madinah.
The committee supervising the
project opened financial and technical offers on Tuesday in the
presence of Al-Seraisry, Abdul Aziz Al-Hoqail, president of Saudi
Railway Organization (SRO), and other senior officials.
"The implementation of this mega
project is moving in the right direction," Al-Seraisry said. "We
have called for tenders for all projects related to this vital
The project’s second phase
includes construction of railroads, setting up of signals,
communication and electricity supply systems and the importing of
trains and rail cars, Al-Hoqail said, adding that technical offers
made by Al-Shola and Al-Rajhi have passed the review stage.
Financial offers for establishing
five railway stations in Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah, Rabigh and Jeddah
airport have already been opened, the SRO chief said. The winner of
the contract will be announced later.
Al-Rajhi consortium won the first
phase contract valued at SR6.79 billion. Another agreement worth
SR1.8 billion was signed with Saudi Electricity Company to provide
the electricity required for the high-speed trains.
The Council of Ministers has urged
SRO to speed up the construction of the 450-km project. It also
instructed the state-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF) to sign and
finance service and business contracts for the project by providing
Muhammad Al-Dahlawi, chairman of
the ministry's compensation committee, said the appropriation of
land for the project was going well, despite objections raised by
Al-Dahlawi told Arab News land
acquisition would be completed on time to implement the project.
He said the eight-member committee
included officials from the Makkah governorate, the Finance Ministry
and mayoralties in Makkah and Madinah.
The Haramain Railway will operate
trains at a speed of over 300 km per hour. The project includes the
construction of 450 km of high-speed electric railway lines between
the three cities. It will be equipped with advanced signaling and
Highlighting the profitability of
the project, a senior official said the Haramain Railway would make
SR500 million in the first year. The project is part of a major
railway expansion program that involves laying 950 km new tracks
between Riyadh and Jeddah and a 115 km line linking Dammam and
Passenger train mows down five railroad workers
By FAIZ AL-MAZROUEI |
DAMMAM: Five foreign workers were
killed and another injured when a passenger train bound for Hofuf
from Riyadh ran over them near the capital on Monday morning.
The dead included four Nepalese
and one Indian, all men.
Another Nepalese worker who
sustained multiple injuries was admitted to a nearby hospital,
according to a source at the Saudi Railway Organization (SRO). The
workers belonged to Archirodon Construction (Overseas) Co.
The accident happened when workers
were re-laying part of a railroad.
Two rail cars carrying white
stones rolled down, hitting the workers and killing five of them
The accident happened while the
driver was shunting the train at a location called Kilo 407, about
25 km east of Riyadh. Authorities did not say what caused the
Saudi Arabia has embarked on a
massive railway expansion program.
Monday’s accident disrupted rail
traffic on the route with SRO canceling two trains between Riyadh
SRO’s maintenance teams are now
clearing the accident site to restore normal rail services at the
earliest possible opportunity.
Abdul Aziz Al-Huqail, president of
SRO, promised passengers that rail services would be restored as
soon as possible.
Al-Huqail said SRO has ordered a
thorough probe into the accident. He expressed deep sorrow over the
incident and apologized to passengers for causing them
On his part, Muhammad Abu Zaid,
director of public relations and media at SRO, said bus transport
has been arranged for passengers stranded at Riyadh and Hofuf
SR278m deal inked
for operation of industrial railway
ABDUL AZIZ AL-HAMWAN |
AL-JOUF: Saudi Arabian
Railway (SAR) has signed a SR278 million agreement with India’s
state-owned Rites company for the operation of a major mineral
railway linking the northern Jelamaid region with Ras Azzour near
the industrial port city of Jubail.
Romaih bin Muhammad
Al-Romaih, deputy CEO of SAR, said the contract would be valid until
the end of 2013, adding that it was signed for operating the railway
line for the transportation of phosphate and bauxite from Jelamaid
to processors in Ras Azzour.
The new 1,486-km
north-south railway, which opens by the end of this year, would make
Saudi Arabia a leading supplier of phosphate and bauxite in the
world. Passenger traffic on the route would start in 2013 with
trains passing by Riyadh, Sudair, Qassim, Hail and Al-Jouf.
"The value of the
contract depends on the volume of minerals and goods that are
transported through the railway during the contract period. In
accordance with present estimates, it would reach SR278 million,"
Al-Romaih said. "We have already constructed 800 km of railway of
the 1,486 km project," he said.
SAR signed a deal in
2009 with EMD, an American company, to manufacture locomotives, and
another agreement with China’s CSR company to manufacture carriages
to transport phosphate. "The new locomotives and carriages will
reach the Kingdom by September this year," he added.
"This railway line is
very important for our mining industry as it will help transport raw
minerals in a secure and economic manner. A goods train will carry
15,000 tons in one trip, the load of 600 trucks," Al-Romaih said.
Last December, Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) signed a SR40.5
billion contract with Alcoa, the world leader in aluminum, for the
development of a fully integrated aluminum industry in the Kingdom.
Maaden President and
CEO Abdallah Dabbagh said the joint venture would become the world’s
pre-eminent and lowest-cost supplier of primary aluminum, alumina
and aluminum products with access to the growing markets of the
Middle East. He added that the project would be implemented in two
phases, that production from the aluminum smelter and rolling mill
would start in 2013, and that production from the mine and refinery
was expected in 2014.
Maaden will own 60
percent of the joint venture, while Alcoa and its partners the
In its initial phase,
the joint venture will develop a fully integrated industrial complex
including a bauxite mine with an initial capacity of 4,000,000
metric tons per year, an alumina factory with an initial capacity of
1,8000,000 (mtpy), and an aluminum smelter with initial hot-mill
capacity of between 250,000 and 460,000 mtpy.
"The mill will
initially focus on the production of sheet, end and tab stock for
the manufacture of aluminum cans and potentially other products to
serve the construction industry," Dabbagh said. The refinery,
smelter and rolling mill will be established in Ras Azzour.
Haramain railway gathers steam
P.K. Abdul Ghafour |
JEDDAH: The Council of Ministers
moved Monday to speed up the construction of the 450-km Haramain
railway project, which will link the holy cities of Makkah and
Madinah with Jeddah and facilitate the transportation of pilgrims.
The Cabinet meeting, chaired by
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, instructed the
state-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF) to sign and finance service
and business contracts for the project by providing interest-free
loans from its revenues.
“The PIF will be compensated for this
service through budget allocations in the coming years,” Culture and
Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja told the Saudi Press Agency.
The company that is contracted to carry out the project would enjoy
all the incentives and facilities given to state projects and be
charged at local rates for its energy requirements.
The Cabinet instructed the Transport
Ministry to provide detailed maps of the Haramain railway’s route
and areas immediately to the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs
and the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.
The two ministries will then study
the maps expeditiously and inform the Transport Ministry if they
have any feedback, the Cabinet said. The government had earlier
signed a SR6.7 billion contract with the Al-Rajhi Consortium, led by
China Railway, to carry out civilian work. Dar Al-Handasa
Consultants received a SR360 million contract to supervise the
project while Scott Wilson won a SR89.8 million contract for the
President of the Saudi Railway
Organization Abdul Aziz Al-Hoqail said the company would receive
offers for the project’s second phase by the end of this month.
The second phase covers construction
of railway lines, signal and communication systems, import of train
cars and equipment and operation and maintenance.
Addressing the Cabinet meeting, King
Abdullah urged ministers to complete all projects, for which
allocations have been made in the budget, without delay.
The Cabinet also urged the
international community to stand by Yemen in order to help the
country overcome its challenges.
The Council of Ministers approved the
Kingdom joining the Nuclear Safety Convention, the UN nuclear
watchdog agency’s pact on maintaining safety in nuclear power
plants. Saudi Arabia signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with
Washington in 2008 and has been in talks with Paris over the last
two years for a similar agreement.
Two hurt as train derails
Faiz Al-Mazroui |
DAMMAM: An engine driver and his
assistant were injured when the engine and three compartments of a
passenger train carrying 186 passengers were derailed in the desert
77 km from Riyadh on Tuesday, according to a statement of the Saudi
Railway Organization (SRO) in Dammam.
“The No. 6 Riyadh-Dammam train
carrying 186 passengers in addition to 14 crew members steamed out
of Riyadh station at 12.50 p.m. None of the passengers was injured,”
a statement said on Tuesday.
The statement which did not specify
the cause of the accident, said the movement of trains was almost
stopped until the time when the statement was issued. The injured
driver and the assistant driver were taken to hospital in Riyadh.
The accident is being investigated by railway police.
President of SRO Abdul Aziz
Al-Hoqail, said the passengers would be taken care of while two
trains, one from Riyadh and another from Ahsa, were sent to the site
of the accident to take passengers to their destinations.
UK firm to manage Haramain Railway
Faiz Al-Mazroui |
DAMMAM: Scott Wilson, market leader
in providing multidisciplinary services to railways worldwide, has
won a SR89.8 million contract for the management of the Haramain
Railway that would link Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah.
Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf and
Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry signed the deal with the
“This contract was signed to make use
of the administrative expertise of the company in the management of
big projects,” said Al-Seraisry, chairman of Saudi Railway
Organization (SRO). The 450-km railroad will facilitate movement of
pilgrims between Makkah and Madinah.
He said the company would provide
administrative consultative services that would help SRO in the
preparation of tenders and analyzing financial and technical offers
on the basis of international standards.
Scott Wilson’s consultancy services
cover all aspects of railroad infrastructure planning, design,
project management, construction supervision and asset maintenance
across the globe.
It also offers multidisciplinary rail
route development, light rail, station development, high-speed rail,
and rail freight consultancy.
“The Ministry of Transport is keen to
complete all steps required for the implementation of the Haramain
Railway project,” said Al-Seraisry. “This is one of the important
transport projects in the Kingdom,” he added.
He underscored the government’s
support for the expansion and privatization of railways in the
Kingdom. “Expansion of railways will have a tremendous impact on the
Kingdom’s economic and social development,” he said.
Abdul Aziz Al-Hoqail, president of
SRO, said the organization would receive technical and financial
offers for the project’s second phase by the end of next month.
The second phase covers construction
of railway lines, signal and communication systems, import of train
cars and equipment and operation and maintenance.
“The working team at SRO and Public
Investment Fund will study the offers in order to announce the
winner of the contract,” Al-Hoqail told reporters after the signing
The government had earlier signed a
SR6.7 billion contract with Al-Rajhi Consortium to carry out
civilian works related to the project. Work has already started on
the Madinah-Jeddah route.
Construction work begins
Ghazanfar Ali Khan |
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has
started construction of an ambitious light-rail project exclusively
for the capital city, where 36 stations will be built in the first
This project is aimed at
reducing congestion in a city where 87 percent of the population
uses private cars as the primary mode of transport.
“This Light Transit Railway
(LTR) project for the capital city, as it is called, comes under the
jurisdiction of Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA),” Mohammed
Abu-zaid, a spokesman for the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO),
said on Monday.
Abuzaid also pointed out
that the SRO would receive eight train cars within 36 months from
now from the Spanish company CAF.
“The total cost of these
eight train units is about SR612 million,” said Abuzaid.
CAF signed a contract with
the SRO for the supply of the trains and a four-year maintenance
Asked about the details of
the LTR system in Riyadh, an ADA source said the final preparations
to implement the project have already been made.
“The construction works have
started on the two railway routes of the city,” said the source,
adding that 23 stations will be built on the first route, while 13
stations will be constructed on the second rail link.
“The frequency of the
services will be higher during peak hours,” said an ADA report
obtained by Arab News.
“The electric metro system
in Riyadh is part of the ADA’s efforts to make the public transport
system more effective and popular.”
The first phase will involve
the construction of a 25-km north-south route. It will extend from
the northern side of the ring road to Olaya and Batha streets up to
the southern ring road.
The second phase will
involve a 14 km route extending from the eastern side of the ring
road across King Abdulaziz Road up to King Khaled Road in the west.
It is expected that the first phase of the project will cover 30
districts of the city.
Distances between stations
will be 600 meters in highly populated areas and 1,100 meters to
2,000 meters in less populated areas of the city.
The rail system is expected
to serve 1,500 passengers per hour per track initially and then up
to 8,000 passengers per hour. Riyadh’s population has grown to over
Monorail to link Jeddah districts
P.K. Abdul Ghafour |
JEDDAH: A SR21-billion monorail
project will soon be established along Jeddah’s 12 main streets as
part of a comprehensive transport system to facilitate traffic in
the city. Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry yesterday presented
a major plan to develop public transport in Jeddah to Makkah Gov.
Prince Khaled Al-Faisal during a meeting at the governor’s office.
“Prince Khaled heard a detailed
presentation from the minister about the project which will be
carried out in three phases,” the Saudi Press Agency said.
The new public transport system,
which includes monorails, buses and trams linking Jeddah’s
residential districts, will bring about a revolution in the city’s
Al-Seraisry said the project also
involves 816 buses, 201 stations, and dozens of tram cars. The
annual operation cost of the system is estimated at SR370 million.
During the meeting, Prince Khaled
urged officials to undertake the project as quickly as possible. The
project will be implemented by the private sector and supervised by
The meeting was also attended by
Jeddah Mayor Adel Fakieh, Makkah Mayor Osama Al-Bar and Abdul Aziz
Al-Khodairy, undersecretary at the Makkah governorate.
The plan for developing Jeddah’s
public transport system was prepared by Canada’s IBI group, which
provides a full range of services related to the movement of people,
goods and information within and between transport facilities.
Through the application of technology
and information, IBI offers intelligent transportation systems and
advanced public transportation solutions to efficiently manage and
operate transportation systems.
“The monorails will have a speed of
40 to 60 km per hour,” an informed source at the Transport Ministry
said. The ministry is currently focusing on railway projects to
improve the Kingdom’s transport system. “We have already signed
contracts with leading national and international companies to
implement new railway lines,” he said.
He was referring to the signing of a
SR6.79 billion contract with Al-Rajhi Consortium to implement the
first phase of the Haramain Railway project that will link Makkah
and Madinah to Jeddah. Contracts valued at SR2.39 billion have also
been signed with Saudi, French and Chinese firms to implement the
North-South Railway that connects the mineral-rich Jalamid belt with
smelters in Ras Al-Zour near the eastern industrial city of Jubail.
to link GCC countries
Ghafour | Arab
JEDDAH: Finance Minister Ibrahim
Al-Assaf yesterday announced plans to establish a new railway system
linking the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states of Saudi Arabia,
Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emriates.
"GCC leaders have given
preliminary approval for the project. The final decision will depend
on its feasibility," Al-Assaf said after signing contracts worth
SR2.39 billion to implement the remaining phases of the North-South
He said state-owned Public
Investment Fund (PIF) had so far signed contracts worth more than
SR12 billion for new railway projects including the North-South
Railway that connects the mineral-rich Jalamid belt with smelters in
Ras Al-Zour near the eastern industrial city of Jubail.
French defense group Thales
and construction giant Saudi Binladin Group were awarded an SR1.7
billion ($453 million) contract to build signaling, ticketing,
communications and security systems for the 2,400-km long
China's CSR Corp and the US
firm ElectroMotive also won contracts valued at SR342.29 million and
SR337.79 respectively. The Chinese firm will supply 668 carriages,
including 524 to carry phosphate, while the American company will
supply 25 locomotives, each with 4300-horsepower.
Al-Assaf, who is chairman of
PIF, signed the agreements with executives of the companies during a
ceremony held at the Finance Ministry, the Saudi Press Agency said.
"We have gone a long way in building the North-South Railway," he
"The launch of the new
railway in 2010 will coincide with the completion of industrial
facilities in Ras Al-Zour on the Gulf coast," he said. China's
Harbor Contracting and Engineering Company is building a port at Ras
Al-Zour, at a cost of SR2.2 billion.
Al-Assaf said Saudi Advanced
Electronics Company would participate in making some parts for
signaling, ticketing, communications and security systems along with
the main contractor to help transfer of technology.
"We'll try to link all parts
of the project with local railway industries and research and
developing the Kingdom's railway industry," SPA quoted the minister
secretary-general of PIF and chairman of Saudi Railway Company, said
the North-South Railway would be ready next year for the
transportation of minerals. He said the passenger railway linking
Riyadh, Sudair, Qassim and Hail would be floated for tenders within
a few days, adding that the work on the project would be completed
The Kingdom's railway
expansion envisages 3,900 km of new track. In addition to the
Landbridge Project linking the Kingdom's east with its west, two
other major new rail projects are moving closer. These include a
450-km high-speed Haramain railway to link Jeddah with Makkah and
The North-South Railway is
given priority due to its importance to industrial development. It
is integral to planned phosphate and bauxite mining projects in the
north of the country that will link up with processing and smelters
on the Gulf coast.
"This is a strategic win for
our company," said Olivier Houssin, Thales' executive vice president
for commercial and security operations. "It is an area where we want
to expand." He said Thales also hopes to take part in the Landbridge
Houssin said Thales was also
battling to win a deal for the one-billion-dollar Saudi security
fence, an Interior Ministry project aimed at securing the porous
northern border with physical and high-tech barriers and monitoring.
Railway to be ready for freight movement by 2010
P.K. Abdul Ghafour |
North-South Railway linking the Kingdom’s northern mineral belt with
Riyadh and the industrial city of Jubail will be ready by next year
for the freight movement, an informed source said. It will be
another two years before passengers can use the railway.
Abdulaziz bin Musaed Economic City in Hail will be linked with the
new railway system as well as with railways in other Gulf countries,
Jordan and Syria.
make maximum use of railway projects by encouraging our youth to
take up jobs in railways as well as in mineral projects," said
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saad, deputy governor of Hail.
Al-Maiman, secretary-general of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and
chairman of Saudi Railway Company, said work on the railroad was
He said the
passenger railway linking Riyadh, Sudair, Qassim and Hail would be
floated for tenders within a few days, adding that the work on the
project would be completed by 2012. He confirmed reports that the
railway would be linked later with those in neighboring countries.
railway expansion envisages 3,900 km of new track. In addition to
the Landbridge Project linking the Kingdom’s east with its west, two
other major new rail projects are moving closer. These include a
450-km high-speed Haramain railway to link Jeddah with Makkah and
North-South Railway is given priority due to its importance to
industrial development. Sponsored by the Public Investment Fund,
this rail line is integral to planned phosphate and bauxite mining
projects in the north of the country that will link up with
processing and smelters on the Gulf coast.
Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf, chairman of PIF Board of Directors,
signed a supervision agreement for the execution of the North-South
Railway project with Louis Berger Group Inc. of America, SYSTRA,
Canarail and Saudi Consolidated Engineering Co.
extends from Haditha point on the Saudi border with Jordan to
Riyadh, passing through Jouf, Hail, Qassim and Sudair. The railway
will connect the northern region (Al-Jalamid belt) to the Hail
province (Az-Zubaira) allowing the transportation of phosphates and
bauxite to Ras Azzur in the eastern part of the Kingdom and then to
valued at SR512.87 million includes on-site construction
supervision, provision of technical support to the manufacture and
supply of rolling stock, passenger stations, shipment yards,
detailed design of signaling and control systems.
North-South Railway is of vital strategic importance to the national
economy, as the processing of phosphates, which exists in commercial
quantities, will place the Kingdom second internationally in their
export, besides accommodating fertilizer industry technology. It
will also increase oil, agricultural and industrial products
transportation, as well as goods and passengers.
landbridge will link Jeddah with the existing Dammam-Riyadh railway.
It will have a significant impact on freight traffic with containers
able to transit from the Gulf to the Red Sea in 24 hours avoiding a
sea voyage around the Arabian Peninsula. Mada Industrial and
Commercial Investments and Binladin Group from Saudi Arabia are
vying with Kuwait’s Agility (formerly PWC Logistics) and France’s
Bouygues Travaux to gain the BOT contract.
Al-Hoqail, president of Saudi Railway Organization (SRO), said
special panels have completed reviewing financial and technical
offers of the bidders. "The matter of endorsing the winner of the
contract is left for higher authorities," he said. According to a
report carried by Al-Watan Arabic daily, the consortium led by
Binladin Group is the lowest bidder. The winner of the contract
should inform the government within a year how they will finance the
Makkah-Madinah railway project contract signed
Mohammed Rasooldeen |
RIYADH: The Kingdom has signed an
SR6.79 billion agreement with Al-Rajhi Alliance to implement the
first phase of the Haramain Railway project that will link the holy
cities of Makkah and Madinah with Jeddah by rail.
Public Investment Fund Chairman and
Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf and Transport Minister Jabara
Al-Seraisry signed the agreement with Abdullah Sulaiman Al-Rajhi,
chairman of the Al-Rajhi Alliance, which comprises Al-Arrab
Contracting Company, China Railway 18 Bureau and Masco.
The project is being implemented at
the initiative of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah,
who wants to provide better transport services for Haj and Umrah
The 450-km rail track connecting
Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah will be equipped with high-speed electric
trains with a capacity of 320 km per hour. It will reduce the travel
time between Makkah and Madinah to two hours and between Jeddah and
Makkah to 30 minutes. The trains will also transport passengers from
King Abdul Aziz International Airport to the holy cities.
The first phase of the project will
include preparing the ground, constructing bridges, culverts and
tunnels for laying track.
“We consider it a major project in
the history of transport in the Kingdom,” Al-Seraisry said, adding
that the high-speed trains would not only shorten the duration of
the journey but also ensure passenger comfort. “Today’s signing
ceremony is the result of great efforts made by the officials of the
Saudi Railway Organization (SRO) and the Public Investment Fund,
which has played a vital role in screening bidders for the project,”
said Al-Seraisry, who is also chairman of SRO.
He added that the agreement for
subsequent phases would be signed during the course of the
implementation of the first phase. His ministry is studying a report
submitted by a team that visited the United States, Japan and South
Korea recently to choose the best trains to suit the Kingdom’s
“We will introduce the latest engines
in this project that will eventually link with the Landbridge
project,” the minister said, referring to a railway expansion plan
linking the Kingdom’s east and west.
Abdul Aziz Al-Hoqail, president of
SRO, said the project would be completed by the middle of 2012 and
pilot operations on the track would be conducted for a period of six
months until its official launch in November the same year.
“Bullet trains between the two holy
cities are the safest mode of conveyance for pilgrims and other
passengers. The trains will be fully electric and equipped with the
latest signaling and communications systems,” he added.
The second phase will include, track
laying, electrification, power supply, installing communication and
signaling systems and deploying rolling stock.
Abdullah Al-Rajhi said the Al-Rajhi
Investment Group owns 63.75 percent of the alliance while the
Chinese company has funded 21.25 percent of the total investment.
Alstom, the French maker of TGV
trains, will bid for the locomotives tender. A tender for five train
stations will take place in the third or fourth quarter of 2009,
“We are very enthusiastic about the
project that is going to serve millions of pilgrims,” Samer M.S.
Arafa, executive vice president of Al-Arrab, partner in the Al-Rajhi
Alliance, told Arab News following the signing. He added that his
company would complete the project as scheduled.
Kingdom, Turkey decide to restore
historic Hejaz Railway
Saudi Arabia and Turkey have reaffirmed their desire to restore and
rebuild the historic Hejaz Railway that linked Damascus with the
holy city of Madinah by a narrow-gauge rail line. The Hejaz rail
line was used by pilgrims traveling from Istanbul to the Prophet’s
Mosque via the Syrian capital.
“The plan envisages
restoration and modernization of the railway line by the Turkish
government within its territory, while it calls on Syria and Jordan
to rebuild the tracks on their sides,” said Turkish Transport
Minister Binali Yildirim during a high-profile business meeting
addressed by Turkish President Abdullah Gul here yesterday.
The plan, the first since
the Six-Day War interrupted a similar project in 1967, would extend
the reach of the railway to its original but never completed
southernmost destination: Makkah. World War I put an end to the rail
line shortly after its completion in 1913.
The new plan would, if
completed as envisioned, connect Istanbul to Makkah. “On the Saudi
side, they do have an ambitious plan to set up railway projects,”
said Yildirim. “So, when these four countries (Turkey, Jordan, Syria
and Saudi Arabia) come together, the entire project would be
No time frame for the
implementation of this multinational project was provided, though
Yildirim speculated that it could be completed in five years. A
contract to convert the narrow-gauge line to standard gauge was
signed in Jordan last year, where a portion of the rail line is
still in use in the south of the country. “This railroad project
needs positive efforts by the countries involved,” said Shoura
member Ihsan Ali Bu-Hulaiga. “It can be of great value and even link
Arab countries with European states.”
Addressing the meeting of
businessmen organized by the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce
and Industry, which was also attended by Minister of Commerce and
Industry Abdullah Zainal Alireza and Agriculture Minister Fahd
Balghunaim, Gul said, “The Kingdom and Turkey, which share identical
views on a range of political and commercial issues, must boost
Gul also witnessed the
signing of a memorandum of understanding between King Saud
University and Istanbul Technical University and visited the King
Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology yesterday.
Work on SR20bn Makkah monorail to
begin after Haj
P. K. Abdul Ghafour |
JEDDAH: Work on the first
phase of an SR20 billion Makkah monorail project will start in
December soon after the Haj season to facilitate transportation of
pilgrims between the holy sites of Makkah, Mina, Arafat and
Muzdalifa. The project is designed to transport five million
“An agreement will be signed
with the winner of the contract to implement the project soon after
Haj,” said Dr. Habeeb Zain Al-Abidine, deputy minister of municipal
and rural affairs and secretary-general of the Commission for
Development of Makkah, Madinah and the Holy Sites. Five specialized
international companies, which were short-listed from 10, are
competing for the multibillion dollar project, he said, adding that
a meeting chaired by Prince Miteb, minister of municipal and rural
affairs and chairman of the commission, would be held tomorrow to
open their tenders.
Zain Al-Abidine said a
feasibility study conducted by an international company had proposed
five monorails linking the holy sites. Custodian of the Two Holy
Mosques King Abdullah has given his approval to the project that
will ease transportation of more than three million pilgrims between
the holy sites.
“The feasibility study
suggested the second monorail be built two to three years after the
construction of the first one,” he said, adding that a single
monorail would cost SR4 billion. The first monorail beginning from
Mina will transport nearly one million pilgrims including 360,000
Monorail, which is a single
rail serving as the track for a wheeled or (magnetically) levitating
vehicle, has been rapidly paving its way as a modern urban transit
system, providing the most-sought-after transportation solutions for
a built-up congested city. The Makkah monorails will be 8 to 10
meters above the ground to ensure smooth flow of pedestrians and
Zain Al-Abidine said the
implementation of the project in the holy sites would help withdraw
25,000 buses from a total of 70,000 used by domestic pilgrims as
well as pilgrims who come by land from neighboring countries. He
said the system would help transport at least 500,000 pilgrims
within six to eight hours.
According to the present
study, monorails will have a station west of the stoning area in
Mina in order to transport pilgrims to the second and fourth levels
of the high-tech Jamrat Bridge.
Hijaz Railway Bridge to be
MADINAH: The Madinah
Municipality has decided to reconstruct the historic railway bridge
near the Islamic University in Wadi Al-Aqiq neighborhood in Madinah.
“The General Commission for
Tourism and Antiquities (GCTA) is collaborating with the Ministry of
Municipal and Rural Affairs in the reconstruction of the bridge as
part of the GCTA program to renovate and preserve historical sites
in the Kingdom,” said Ali Al-Ghaban, deputy secretary- general of
the GCTA, yesterday.
The Madinah Municipality
demolished the historic Hijaz Railway Bridge in 2005 because it had
suffered structural damage during heavy flooding the previous year.
Commenting on the
municipality’s decision to reconstruct the old bridge, GCTA’s
Secretary-General Prince Sultan bin Salman said the move signified
the increasing awareness in the country about the need to preserve
antiquities and architectural heritages.
Al-Ghaban said Prince Sultan
bin Salman also appreciated the special interest shown by Madinah
Gov. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Majed in the reconstruction of the
The prince also expressed
satisfaction over the efforts made by various local governments and
government departments in the renovation and restoration of old
buildings and sites of cultural significance particularly the
mayor’s office in Asir and an ancient fort in Namas.
The Wadi Aqiq bridge was
part of the Hijaz Railway completed in 1908 by Ottomans with the aim
of providing easy access to Muslim pilgrims in the Middle East and
Near East to Makkah and Madinah.
The demolition of the bridge
had outraged the Madinah residents and historians though it was
seriously damaged even before that.
The residents protested the
municipality’s unimaginative act saying that it should have
attempted to preserve the landmark rather than leveling it.
travels 10 km on wrong track
Saudi Railways Organization yesterday launched an investigation into
how a Dammam-bound passenger train traveled for around 10
kilo-meters along the wrong track near Abqaiq.
which left Riyadh station early in the day on Friday, was stopped at
Kilo 84, about 10 kilometers away after running on the wrong track
before reaching Abqaiq station," an official source said.
schedule, which was disrupted as a result, resumed after the train
was moved onto the right track. Railway authorities apologized to
passengers for any inconvenience caused.
to run east-west railway
P.K. Abdul Ghafour
much-awaited east-west railway (land bridge) project received a
boost yesterday as the Council of Ministers licensed a joint stock
company to establish and operate the estimated $5 billion project.
"The Council of Ministers decided to license the establishment of
Saudi Land Bridge Company as a closed joint stock company," the
Saudi Press Agency said, quoting Economy and Planning Minister and
Acting Information Minister Khaled Al-Gosaibi.
meeting, chaired by Crown Prince Sultan, said the new company would
"establish, develop, operate and maintain the railway linking the
Kingdom’s east with its west... transport passengers and goods and
carry out other related activities."
Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry said the land bridge project would be
completed in four years and Abdul Aziz Al-Hoqail, president of the
Saudi Railway Organization (SRO), said the winner of the contract
would be announced this year. The consortium that wins the project
will have an 80 percent stake in the company, while the government
will hold 20 percent.
involves the construction of 950 km of new railway track between
Riyadh and Jeddah, and another 115-km line between Dammam and
Jubail. It is the cornerstone of a massive multibillion-riyal
railway expansion project and will be the first rail link between
the Red Sea and the Gulf. Four consortia — Agility PWC Logistics
Consortium, Mada Consortium, Saudi Binladin Consortium and
Al-Muhaidib/ACWA (Tarabot) Consortium — have presented their
financial and technical offers for implementing the project.
Railway Revival A Real Possibility
Syria And Saudi Arabia To Consider Reviving Hijaz Railway
Saudi Arabia and Syria recently agreed ro carry out a joint study in
the next few weeks to consider utilising the Hijaz Railway, which
crosses through the three countries.
remarks were made at a meeting yesterday for the higher commission
of the Hijaz Railway in the presence of Minister of Transport Alaa
Batayneh, his Saudi counterpart Jobara Soraisri and Syrian
counterpart Yarob Badr.
statements to the press, Batayneh said the three-way meeting is part
of ongoing coordination between the three countries regarding
who said Iraq will soon float a tender for railway linkage with
Jordan and Syria, added that the joint study will stipulate the
rights of each involved country.
Railway is old and in need of repair to be in line with
international railway standards, Batayneh said, adding that the
railway, is currently used for ferrying passengers and transporting
goods between Amman and Damascus.
railway, which was originally constructed in 1908, was built at an
estimated five-million Ottoman gold liras.
Yesterday's meeting, the first after seven years, also focused on
mechanisms to involve the private sector in the railway linkage
between the three countries.
yesterday, Prime Minister Nader Dahabi met with the two visiting
premier highlighted the importance of cooperation and coordination
between Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria to benefit from the railroad,
which is currently run by administration representing the three
Landbridge Result Now Expected In
Saudi Railway Deal To Be Awarded In June
Saudi Arabia's railway
organization said it would name by June the winner of its estimated
$5 billion project to build a 1,100 km railway across the Saudi
Four groups of Saudi and international firms are vying for the
30-year contract to build and operate the rail network linking the
Gulf and Red Sea coasts of the world's largest oil exporter, and
final bids are now being invited.
"We will know the winner by June," Mohammad Afzal Khan, advisor to
the president of the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) told newswire
Reuters by telephone from Dammam.
"The group which asks for the minimum grant from the government and
meets the financial models will be the preferred bidder."
Khan said the minimum grant requested was about 6.5 billion riyals
($1.73 billion), declining to name the consortium.
Two executives from Saudi construction firms bidding for the project
said the minimum grant requested ranged from 6.5 billion riyals to
16 billion riyals, with total project costs estimated at more than
Khan declined to say how much the project would cost, but said the
consortiums would have to put in 20 percent equity with the
remainder coming from bank loans and the government grant.
The so-called Saudi Landbridge project includes a 950 km line
between the capital Riyadh and the Red Sea port of Jeddah, as well
as a 115 km link between the industrial city of Jubail and Dammam,
the oil hub on the Gulf coast.
The Landbridge is one of the projects Saudi Arabia is using to tap a
regional economic boom - powered by a quadrupling of oil prices in
the past six years - to develop infrastructure, tourism and
Kuwaiti logistics firm Agility leads one consortium with US firms
KBR, General Electric and Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank.
Saudi Binladin Group heads a group including Japan's Mitsui &
Company, India's Ircon International, Germany's Siemens, Deutsche
Bank and Deutsche Bahn, according to the SRO website.
Rajhi Investment leads the group with Mada Company for Industrial &
Commercial Investment. Other members include Canada's SNC-Lavalin
and Saudi Arabia's Samba Financial Group.
The fourth consortium, led by Saudi family owned business Al-Muhaidib
& Sons, includes South Korea's Samsung Engineering & Construction
and French bank BNP Paribas.
- Madina Rail Link Gets The Go Ahead
Cities Rail Link Gets Green Light
King Abdullah on Wednesday gave the green light for a high-speed
rail link between Islam's holy cities of Mecca and Medina via the
commercial hub of Jeddah, the official SPA news agency reported.
It said the project, first mooted years ago to help transport the
hundreds of thousands of Muslims who visit the kingdom for the
annual hajj pilgrimage, will be financed by Saudi investment funds.
The new rail link aims to transport an estimated 10 million Umrah
and Haj pilgrims every year. It includes the construction of
approximately 500 kilometers of high-speed electric railway lines
between the three cities.
Jeddah on the Red Sea is
the required port of entry for millions of Muslims performing the
year-round Umra, or minor pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.
It is also the port of entry for the main hajj which precedes the
annual Feast of the Sacrifice, or Eid al-Adha, and brings together
more than two million of the faithful.
The trains will travel at up to 300 kilometers (180 miles) per hour,
allowing a Mecca-Jeddah journey time of half an hour and
Jeddah-Medina in two hours, SPA quoted Transport Minister Jebarah
bin Eid Al-Suraisri as saying.
SPA did not give an estimated cost or timetable for the project,
however a spokesman for the Saudi Binladin group said in January it
expected a contract worth $5 billion to be awarded at the end of
The network is part of a massive kingdom-wide railway project, which
also involves the construction of 950 kilometers of new tracks
between Riyadh and Jeddah, and another 115 kilometers of track
between Dammam and Jubail.
Last April the Saudi government awarded three contracts totaling 1.9
billion dollars for the construction of railways covering 1,766
kilometers (1,100 miles).
SPA said at the time the work was expected to take 42 months to
Railways Wins $800mn Saudi Deal
Railways said on Monday it had won an $800 million tender from Saudi
Arabia to build a 520-kilometre railway line from Riyadh airport to
a key mainline junction on its giant North-South railway project.
"When the envelopes with the financial offers were opened... the
Russian Railways proposal was the best," Russian Railways president
Vladimir Yakunin said in a statement.
The rail line will connect Riyadh's King Khalid Airport with the Al-Zabira
junction on Saudi Arabia's North-South railway project, which is
being built to move minerals from the interior to an industrial
complex to be built on the Gulf coast.
The project is one of
several planned to expand the kingdom’s rail network. The Saudi
Landbridge and Mecca-Medina Rail Link (MMRL) projects are expected
to transform the existing rail network into a world-class freight
and passenger system that will bring together the entire country.
Saudi Landbridge includes a 950-kilometre line between capital
Riyadh and the Red Sea port of Jeddah, as well as a 115-kilometre
link between the industrial city of Jubail and Dammam, the oil hub
on the Gulf coast.
Tenders for Landbridge from four groups of Saudi and international
firms were submitted in November, and the Saudi Rail Organisation
(SRO) is to announce the winning bid in February.
MMRL will involve the construction of new lines linking the Islamic
holy cities of Mecca and Medina with Jeddah, the gateway to Mecca
for Haj pilgrims.
SRO said in December six international groups were expected to
submit proposals by January for the project.
Landbridge Contract To Be Awarded By March 2008
Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) is expected to award the estimated
US $5 billion BOT contract for the Landbridge project within the
next two months according to one of the bidding consortia.
Bids for the project are currently under evaluation.
Four bidders that were pre-qualified to participate in the tender
for the Saudi Landbridge Project have submitted their bids.
The bidders include
Agility PWC Logistics Consortium, Mada Consortium, Saudi Binladin
Consortium and Al Muhaidib/ACWA (Tarabot) Consortium.
The SRO is confident that it will be in a position to select the
Winning Bidder in the first quarter of 2008.
Speaking to Construction Week, Ahmed Anees, official
spokesperson for Saudi Binladin Group said: "The contract is
expected to be awarded within the next two months. We were
pre-qualified to bid for it and we stand a very good chance at the
"We have also bid for the Makkah-Madinah Rail Project, which is also
about $5 billion. That is expected to be awarded at the end of this
year. We're also bidding for the Riyadh Metro project.
The Saudi Landbridge Project will transform the existing railway
network in Saudi Arabia into a world-class freight and passenger
network linking the east and west coasts of 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 Landbridge will
connect the port cities of Jeddah, Dammam and Jubail and will pass
through the capital city Riyadh, serving its dry port. The project,
which is being tendered on a BOT basis, is one of the largest of its
kind undertaken in the Middle East to date.
Gulf Railway Network Will Miss Out Bahrain
Proposed railway network connecting the GCC countries will not
include Bahrain, it has emerged.
Transport experts from
across the region gathered at a two-day conference in Dubai to
discuss the issue.
But according to reports
in the Dubai-based newspaper Emirates Today, the railway, which will
run for 1,000km near the Gulf coast, will go from Muscat to Kuwait
City and only pass through the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
It said trains will
operate at speeds of up to 180kph and a GCC summit in December will
decide whether to extend the line by another 1,000km to include
The report says member
countries are in the process of establishing national railway
networks that will be integrated into the GCC railway network.
The World Bank's senior
transport specialist Ramiz Al Assar said the Gulf line would cost
$2.5bn (BD945 million) and would
be ready by 2015.
"All GCC member countries
are fully committed to the project and there is no going back on
this vow, despite some hurdles that still need to be overcome," he
told the conference.
Plans for the Gulf-wide
railway line were finalised at the fourth Middle East Rail Projects
Conference that ended at the Park Hyatt in Dubai yesterday.
Among the keynote
speakers were director-general of the Arab Union of Railways Mourhaf
Sabhouni, GCC General Secretariat transport director Sultan Al
Ghanim and Dubai Roads and Transport Authority director of planning
Abdulredha Abu Al Hassan.
International law firm
Norton Rose was among the companies participating from Bahrain.
Plans for a railway
connecting Bahrain and the GCC were first mooted in June 2004 when
Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa approved the
proposal at a cabinet meeting.