Saudi rail contract awarded

By Richard High15 April 2009

A consortium led by Al Arrab Contracting has won a SAR 6.79 billion (US$ 1.8 billion) contract to construct the first part of the 450 km-long high-speed rail link from Jeddah to Mecca and Medina - Islam's two holiest sites.

The consortium, which includes China Railway Construction Corp, China Railway Construction subsidiary China Railway 18th Bureau Group, and two Saudi company's, including Al Arrab, will be responsible for ground and civil engineering works along the 450 km-long railway.

The project aims to ease congestion and reduce travel times between the two cities of Mecca and Medina and from Jeddah to Medina.

The government expects the number of pilgrims travelling to the two cities will more than double to 14 million per year by 2030, up from 5.5 million in 2005.

The railway, which will be operated by the state-controlled Saudi Railways Org, is due for completion by the end of 2012 and is expected to carry 3 million people per year.

It will include a station at Jeddah's airport, the main arrival point for pilgrims making the annual Haji.

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