The story behind Saudi Arabia’s coast to coast rail network
The backbone of Saudi Arabia’s industrial and economic development will depend on the extension of its railway system.
Developed under the instruction of the Saudi Railway Organisation (SRO), a recent meeting addressed the progress of the current civil works being undertaken between Mecca and Medina via Jeddah – comprising phase one of the Haramain High Speed Rail project (HHSRP) – where “a number” of bridges and culverts are now ready to be constructed.
Admitting the project has faced some challenges along the way, SRO president, H.E Abdul Aziz Al Hokail, said the restructuring of bridges and the relocation of utility installations on Al Haramain Road is both the most difficult and important part of the project.
More than 45 bridges, including the Pilgrim Terminal Bridge and the Air Base Bridge on Al Haramain Road have been completed while work is underway on 154 other bridges. In addition, 500 flood drainage culverts have been constructed.
Phase two, the construction of stations along the track, is “progressing according to schedule” now Spanish consortiumAl Shoula is directly in charge of the sites. The contract between SRO and Al Shoula is worth SR 30.815 billion.
Al Shoula will be responsible for construction of railway tracks; installation of signaling systems and communication; electrification and operational control centre; the procurement of rolling stock; equipment and maintenance of rolling stock and entire infrastructure for a period of 12 years; as well as providing additional energy to meet the growing demand over the concession period.
The cross country Landbridge project, will welcome designs from this month, according to SRO and the state owned Public Investment Fund (PIF). The line will be a major freight track for goods and shipping containers moving from Jeddah Islamic Port to Riyadh Dry Port and the King Abdul Aziz Port.
Tenders on a 1300km stretch of the project will be launched soon after and there is also a study under way for a link of the Landbridge with King Abdullah Industrial Port in Rabigh
The SRC is preparing to issue an operating license and safety certificate for North-South railway, implemented by Saudi Railway Company (SAR), and SRO upgrade, King Abdullah Financial District Monorail, Madinah metro, Makkah metro and HHR.
Another Spanish company, CAF, will supply eight diesel train sets with top speeds of 200km/h for the Dammam passenger network as part of a SR 612m agreement. These will cut travel times between Dammam and Riyadh to 3 hours.
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Minister of Finance says that combined: “These projects will represent a quantum leap in the transport sector in the Kingdom and enter it into a new era to take advantage of the technique of high speed trains in transporting passengers”.
Considered to be one of the most extensive networks in the world, the completed network will then join to Qatar’s planned railway by 2022.