Hunt on for Saudi mega-rail bidders

Head of North-South Railway Project is looking for construction firms to come on board for 2,400km journey

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By  Tim Wood Published  April 22, 2006

The consortium in charge of building the US $2 billion (SR7.5 billion) North-South Railway Project in Saudi Arabia is on the hunt for contractors. The largest rail project ever let in the Middle East is to be split into four main contracts comprising earthworks, bridges, ballast and track installation. The Louis Berger, Systra, Canarail and Khatib & Alami consortium was awarded the $126m supervision consultancy contract in November 2005. It involves preparing and awarding construction contracts and managing the construction implementation until the new 2,400km railway opens in 2011. Project director, Darcy Buryniuk, said the group is now looking for international contractors and local players to bid for the mega-contracts on offer. “We have put ads in international magazines, such as The Economist and Railway Gazette, as well as the Financial Times and regional newspapers in the hope that local companies bid for contracts as joint ventures. “We have also contacted embassies to draw the attention of international contractors to visit the website to download the prequalification documents for submission.” Fears had been expressed that selecting just one contractor to design, build, finance and operate the track and trains was unfeasible and last year contractors and consultants called for the project to be broken down into smaller packages to reduce risk. There are now four large individual contracts available comprising earthworks, bridges, ballast and track installation. Bids are invited for individual contracts or for a combination of one or more. The works cover: construction of the roadbed (83 million m3 of earthworks); concrete bridges (254 sites); concrete culverts (1059 sites); production of concrete sleepers (4.6 million units); procurement of rails (4,800km); flash-butt welding of rails (194,000 welds); production of crushed rock ballast (6.1 million m3); and installation of the mainline track structure (2,400km). Design works, which are currently being carried out by another international consortium, are nearing completion. Once the pre-qualification exercise for the main civil contracts is completed, applicants will be invited to submit bids during July. Contracts are scheduled to be awarded in December 2006. The new railway line from Riyadh to Al Haditha will have spurs to Al Jalamid and Al Bayasta and linkage from Al Zabirah junction to Jubail via Raz Azzawr. Once fully operational it will not only transport passengers, but also minerals and general freight across the country.

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