Companies vie for Saudi Landbridge tender

Eight companies place their initial bids for the Landbridge project, which involves the construction of a 1065 km railroad across the Kingdom.

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By  Laura Barnes Published  September 22, 2005

Siemens, Mitsubishi and Alstom are among eight companies bidding for a US $5 billion Saudi Arabian project to create a rail link between the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The Landbridge project, which involves building a 1065 km railroad across the Kingdom, is being offered for tender by the state-run Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO). Eight initial offers were made. “The project will link the three major economic cities in Saudi Arabia for the first time,” said Khalid Alyahya, president, SRO to Bloomberg. The initial offers were made from groups of companies including banks, railway builders and train makers. However, after this initial offering the SRO is now inviting the companies to submit firm bids by the end of the year. The project organisers, who are keen to attract foreign investment for the railway construction, last year hired the French state-owned rail operator, Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer to advise them on the project. The Landbridge project is expected to greatly ease the transportation of goods from within the country, as it will create a direct link between the country’s major ports. At present, the Kingdom has a very limited rail network with only 556 km of freight line linking the port of Damman to the Saudi capital, Riyadh. However, the new rail network will see the construction of two lines, the longer of which will be a 950 km link from the Red Sea port of Jeddah through to Riyadh’s Dry Port, which then links up with the Damman line. The second line will be built from Damman to Jubail and Jubail Port, a 115 km route that will link the industrial city with the rest of the Kingdom. The winning group will not only build these new routes but will also operate the railway for at least 30 years, carrying both passenger and freight traffic. “The Middle East is the fastest growing transport market for railway projects in the world,” said Charles Carlier, senior vice president southern Europe, Alstom Transport, one of the bidding companies. Despite these two large railway networks being created across the Kingdom, SRO is also considering a third railway line, linking the religious centres of Mecca and Medina with the Red Sea port of Jeddah and the industrial city of Yanbu, Alyahya.

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