DAMMAM: The contract for implementing the final phase of the Haramain Railway project will be awarded by the end of this year, Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry said Wednesday.

“We’ll study the financial and technical offers made by companies vying to win the contract before the end of this year to announce the winner,” the minister told reporters.

The railway linking Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah would bring about a dramatic improvement in the transportation of pilgrims between the two holy cities. It will reduce travel time between Jeddah and Makkah to half an hour and two hours for those traveling between Jeddah and Madinah.

The committee supervising the project opened financial and technical offers on Tuesday in the presence of Al-Seraisry, Abdul Aziz Al-Hoqail, president of Saudi Railway Organization (SRO), and other senior officials.

“The implementation of this mega project is moving in the right direction,” Al-Seraisry said. “We have called for tenders for all projects related to this vital railway.”

The project’s second phase includes construction of railroads, setting up of signals, communication and electricity supply systems and the importing of trains and rail cars, Al-Hoqail said, adding that technical offers made by Al-Shola and Al-Rajhi have passed the review stage.

Financial offers for establishing five railway stations in Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah, Rabigh and Jeddah airport have already been opened, the SRO chief said. The winner of the contract will be announced later.

Al-Rajhi consortium won the first phase contract valued at SR6.79 billion. Another agreement worth SR1.8 billion was signed with Saudi Electricity Company to provide the electricity required for the high-speed trains.

The Council of Ministers has urged SRO to speed up the construction of the 450-km project. It also instructed the state-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF) to sign and finance service and business contracts for the project by providing interest-free loans.

Muhammad Al-Dahlawi, chairman of the ministry’s compensation committee, said the appropriation of land for the project was going well, despite objections raised by some landowners.

Al-Dahlawi told Arab News land acquisition would be completed on time to implement the project.

He said the eight-member committee included officials from the Makkah governorate, the Finance Ministry and mayoralties in Makkah and Madinah.

The Haramain Railway will operate trains at a speed of over 300 km per hour. The project includes the construction of 450 km of high-speed electric railway lines between the three cities. It will be equipped with advanced signaling and telecommunications systems.

Highlighting the profitability of the project, a senior official said the Haramain Railway would make SR500 million in the first year. The project is part of a major railway expansion program that involves laying 950 km new tracks between Riyadh and Jeddah and a 115 km line linking Dammam and Jubail.

Source: Arab News