Saudi Landbridge to be single tracked

Saudi Landbridge to be single tracked

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By  Eudore Chand Published  April 16, 2005

The proposed US $2.67 billion Saudi Landbridge project will include just one track in the first phase of the project, according to insiders. The project is set to be one of the largest BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) developments to be undertaken in the region. The proposed Saudi Landbridge project aims to connect the eastern and the western coasts of the Arabian Peninsula by a rail link. Khaled Al Yahya, the president of Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO), said that the Saudi rail operator was “intending to construct only a single line in the first phase. Two-way tracks will be built later when traffic on the new line grows.” The Saudi Landbridge will link the country’s three largest ports — Jeddah Islamic Port in the west, through to Riyadh’s Dry Port and on to Dammam’s King Abdul Aziz Port in the east of the kingdom. SRO officials say the link will allow cargo to be moved across the country at competitive rates resulting in considerable cost savings on goods moving between North America/Europe and the Gulf. Saudi Railway transported one billion tonnes of goods and 1.3 million passengers last year. The new railway line will reduce the travel time between Riyadh and Jeddah by at least five hours, depending on the type of trains used. Al Yahya said the SRO is currently evaluating two possible operating options. “One is to operate express trains with speeds averaging 220 km per hour, and the other is to operate regular trains with sleeper coaches,” he said. Pre-qualification of the consortia for the project is expected to commence in the first half of 2005. Detailed pre-qualification documentation containing the technical and commercial characteristics of the project will be published within two months. Saudi Arabia’s SAR10 billion railway expansion project involves construction of 950 km of new tracks between the capital Riyadh and Jeddah, and another 115-km line between Dammam and Jubail, as well as the upgrade of the existing rail link between Riyadh and Dammam. Several foreign contracting groups have shown interest in the project. An investors’ conference organised by SRO in London in the end of January to introduce the project drew representatives from more than 150 Saudi and foreign companies. “The response to our invitation was excellent and much beyond our expectations. “More than 150 delegates attended the conference representing major companies within the kingdom and abroad,” commented Al Yahya.

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