Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Haramain Train is a reality

AL-KHOBAR – Al-Rajhi Alliance has bagged the Haramain Express Train Project worth SR6.8 billion. The three-year contract tasks Al-Rajhi Consortium with constructing the railway works linking Makkah and Madina via Jeddah and King Abdul Aziz Airport, Abdul Aziz Al-Hugail, General President of the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) said here Friday.
The group’s works will include but are not limited to bridges, viaducts, retaining walls, subways, shafts, tunnels, embankments, ground structures, covered ways, utility service structures, fencing, and more, he said.In the second phase of the project, construction of stations will commence tentatively by June 2009. Station works will include but are not limited to electrical and mechanical infrastructure, communications, ticketing, fire protection, lifts and escalators, power supply, and more.
The stations at Makkah and Madina will be state-of-the-art inside landmark buildings.Al-Hugail said the Haramain express train is distinguished for its high speed at about 360 km/hr and covers the distance between Jeddah and Makkah in 30 minutes while the trip between Jeddah and Madina will approximately take two hours.The consortium, led by the Mada and Al-Rajhi groups, both local, saw off a joint bid of SR8.3 billion in the final round by the consortiums led by Saudi Binladin Group and Spain’s Obrascon Huarte Lain (OHL).
Al-Rajhi Alliance is expected to begin work before the end of this year on civil works and stations for the 444-km long, high speed railway. The line will link the two holy cities via Jeddah, Rabegh and King Abdullah Economic City.Another rail scheme, the Saudi Land Bridge, which will link the country’s Red Sea and Gulf coast via Riyadh, is going ahead as a BOT scheme.
However, it has become bogged down in bureaucracy amid concerns from banks over the 50-year concession being offered to operate the railway.The Haramain railway will provide a huge boost to Saudi Arabia’s tourism infrastructure, linking the country’s main aviation and marine gateway in Jeddah to the two holy cities. It will also alleviate traffic congestion on the roads particularly during Haj and Umrah seasons.
The project is due to be completed by 2013.The winning Al-Rajhi Alliance also includes China Railway Engineering Corporation and France’s Alstom Transport.The Haramain train project has been designed in a manner to provide a safe and fast means of transportation for pilgrims and local passengers and it comes within the developmental projects being carried out by the government in the service of pilgrims, visitors, and service seekers.

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