Rail Linking Makkah and Madinah to cost SR20bn


The competing consortia — the Al-Rajhi Consortium, the Saudi Binladin Group, Saudi Oger, the Saudi Japanese Consortium, the Al-Sholah Consortium and the OHL International — are awaiting project specifications from the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO).

Transport Minister Dr. Jabara Al-Seraisry, chairman of SRO, said the six consortia would be invited to submit their tenders within a few months. Railway contractors believe that the project would be awarded to one consortium or two consortia by the beginning of 2009 after completing studies on financial and technical offers.

The MMRL aims to provide a safe, fast, and comfortable mode of transport for an estimated 10 million Umrah and Haj pilgrims traveling between the two holy cities and Jeddah. The project will be implemented on a design, build, operate and transfer (DBOT) basis.

The MMRL includes the construction of approximately 500 kilometers of new high-speed electrified railway lines between Jeddah and Makkah and between Jeddah and Madinah. Railway lines will also be equipped with modern signaling and telecommunications systems.

The SRO has planned the project after observing the growing number of people who travel between the three cities. Nearly 2.5 million pilgrims visit the two holy cities during the Haj season. In addition, 7.5 million people, including two million in Ramadan alone, come for Umrah annually.

Emphasizing the profitability of the project, Al-Seraisry said the MMRL would make SR500 million by 2010 and SR750 million by 2030. The MMRL will also reduce travel time between Jeddah and Makkah to 30 minutes and Jeddah and Madinah to 150 minutes.

The Saudi population, which is increasing at the rate of 3.27 percent annually, will reach 39 million in 2020 and 47 million in 2030. The populations of Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah are collectively in excess of five million, with Jeddah home to about 2.8 million people.

The MMRL is part of a major railway expansion project initiated by SRO, which also involves the construction of 950 kilometers of new tracks between Riyadh and Jeddah and another 115 km line between Dammam and Jubail.

Al-Seraisry emphasized the significance of the land bridge, saying it would strengthen the Kingdom’s position on the map of regional and international transport. It would also reduce travel time between Riyadh and Jeddah by at least five hours depending on the type of trains used. Cargo trains would be able to cover the distance between Jeddah and Dammam in 24 hours.

Four consortia led by the Saudi Binladin Group, Bouygues, Mada Industrial and Commercial Investment Company, and the Public Warehouse Company (PWC) have been qualified to present their offers to win the land bridge project contract. They include a large number of contractors, companies that specialize in the railway industry and prominent Saudi investors.


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