Boost to rail transport in Saudi Arabia


  "The Medina- Mecca AVE, the new goods line that links Riyadh and Jeddah are some of Saudi Arabia’s main projects"


Saudi Arabia it is one of the countries in the Gulf where the most development in rail infrastructures will take place. It is estimated that there will be an investment of 18,711 million Euros to undertake 23 projects, amongst which we must highlight the Medina- Mecca AVE

Boost to rail transport in Arabia Saudi

Saudi Arabia is also emphasising the new goods and passenger line of 1000 kilometres that will link Riyadh and Jeddah (the second largest city in the country). This project will be made up by two lines, the first of which will cover 449 kilometres and will only transport passengers, whilst the second section of more than 556 kilometres will be solely devoted to the transport of goods.

Jointly, it is estimated that it will move 300 million passengers and one thousand million tons of goods per year.

A new 115 kilometre railway line is also planned between the port city of Jubrail and the industrial city of Jubail (mainly devoted to the transport of goods). Monorail lines are also planned in Riyadh, Medina and Jeddah. Other long term projects planned are the train line that will link all the countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council and a line that will link Mecca to Turkey going through Damascus.

North-South Connection (NRS)

Building started in 2005 and in May 2011 the trial operation was started of the 1,392 kilometres of the link between Al-Haditha and Jalamid with the new port in the city of Ras Al-Khair. The line, which has 2,400 kilometres and is aimed at the transport of goods, connects the northern region with Hail. The network starts in the north east of the region and goes through the regions of Al-Jouf, Hail and Al-Qassin to end up in Riyadh. Two extensions are also planned for the mineral areas of Al-Jalamid and Ras Al-Zour, in the Persian Gulf, where a port will be built for export

Mecca city has a metro line planned

CAF trains

CAF has just signed two new contracts in Saudi Arabia for the railway company Saudi Railway Company (SAR) and for Saudi Railways Organization (SRO), for an amount of nearly 200 million Euros. The contract with SAR was signed last 14th March by the General Secretary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and president of the Saudi Railway Company “SAR”, Mr Mansour Al-Maiman. These new units, 5 trains for SAR, which are added to the 12 previously acquired by SRO, will have the latest technological safety advances and will meet the highest demands in interior design.

The new contract is made up from the design, manufacturing, supply and maintenance of the latest Push-Pull units that can reach speed of over 200 kilometres per hour.

On the other hand, a new contract has also been signed with SRO that is made up from the supply of 4 trains that are similar to those previously acquired by this client.

Land corridor Riyadh and Jeddah

The line that will link Damman, in the Arabian Gulf, with the port of Jeddah, in the Red Sea, will be funded by the Public Investment Fund, whilst the exploitation of the line will be contracted externally. This model is similar to that adopted by the North-South Railway, which came into service at the beginning of the year, and to that of the future high speed Hatamain line. The land bridge requires the building of around 945 kilometres of new track between Jeddah and Riyadh, as well as increasing the current line capacity of the Riyadh-Damman line which is 450 long, and of a rail link of 115 kilometres between Damman and the North-South line in Jubail. Originally the government had planned to develop the land bridge project using private funding, through a public-private alliance. After having preselected four consortiums, the bid from the consortium Tarabot was graded as the favourite, and who in April 2008 presented a BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer) contract for a period of fifty years. However an agreement was later not reached on the contract’s financial terms.

Experts in the sector believe that maybe the investors were not willing to take on the political risks together with those of demand, on a project with such a long term, whose cost was calculated at around 5,000 million Euros. It is anticipated that the main traffic will be for containers. The trains will run at 120km/h, which will mean a journey time of eighteen hours against the five days that it takes by sea. Passenger trains will run at 220km/h and will offer a very attractive journey time between Riyadh and Jeddah compared to that on a coach (ten hours on a coach compared to six hours on a train).

Light railway system in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia, following in the footsteps of the Arab Emirates, has set up a programme to introduce a light railway system in Riyadh. The works in the first stage, which started in 2009, include the building of 40 km of tracks, divided into 2 lines and which will have 40 stations.

Mecca Metro

Just as announced by the mayor of the city of Mecca, Osma Al-Bar, 4,135M€ will be destined to the 1st Phase of the new metro project in the Islamic city. The plan which is still being thrashed out will have its tender process starting in six months. The metro network will cover the whole city and will help transport to the centre and the Great Mosque.

The project will complement the metro line Al Mashaeer-Al Muqaddassah which was opened in 2010, and which is 18km long and allows there to be less buses and cars on the roads, especially during the Hajj period.

The infrastructures near to the Great Mosque will be designed to accommodate a large number of people, saving passengers from crowds and stampedes.

The announcement of this project in March 2011 justified its viability. The metro will serve the future 2.5 million citizens of Mecca and the number of pilgrims, which they think may reach up to 16million/year in 2030.

“Saudi Arabia is putting all its efforts into building a new 1,000km line for goods and passengers that will link Riyadh and Jeddah.”