New railway will carry millions of pilgrims across 444km of desert
TATA Steel has won an order to manufacture 60,000 tonnes of high-quality rails for a new high-speed line linking the Saudi Arabian cities of Makkah and Madinah.
The new railway will allow millions of pilgrims to cross the 444km between the two holy cities at speeds of 320kmph, traversing desert and withstanding temperatures ranging from freezing to 50°C, as well as sandstorms, flash flooding and shifting dunes.
“This is a prestigious project which will see the holy cities being linked by rail for the first time,” said Gerard Glas, rail sector head for TATA Steel. “Tata Steel is delighted to be contributing to this high-speed line, which will have to overcome some major challenges presented by building a high-capacity rail line across some of the most extreme terrain in the world.”
The steel for the project will be made in the steel giant’s Scunthorpe plant, before being rolled into rail in lengths of 25 metres both at the UK plant and TATA’s Hayange facility in Northern France.
Work on producing the rail will start at the end of the year and will continue throughout 2014.
TATA Steel rail has already been used in similarly challenging environmental conditions in Brazil and Mauritania, Glas said.
In 2012, the Saudi Railways Organisation awarded the contract for the final phase of completing, running and maintaining the Haramain High-Speed Rail Project to a group of Spanish infrastructure, construction and technology companies.
The new line is expected to carry around 160,000 people a day — and even more during the Haj pilgrimage. They will be transported on a fleet of 35 new high-speed trains.
The project started in 2009, with an estimated cost of more than $15 billion. The new rail line is set to open to the public in late 2014 or early 2015.
In addition to Makkah and Madinah, the train will also stop in Jeddah and in the new King Abdullah Economic City.
Spanish construction companies — Copasa, Imathia and OHL — are responsible for building the line’s superstructure and the track bases, as well as for the line’s mechanisms.
The European operations of Tata Steel comprise Europe’s second largest steel producer. With the main steelmaking operations in the UK and Netherlands, they supply steel and related services to the construction, automotive, packaging, lifting and excavating, energy and power, aerospace and other demanding markets worldwide.
The combined Tata Steel group remains one of the world’s largest steel producers, with an aggregate crude steel capacity of more than 28 million tons and approximately 80,000 employees across four continents.