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Saudi Arabia moves ahead with Riyadh metro plans


July 29, 2013 12:38 by

The Saudi Arabian government awarded $22.5 billion in contracts to three foreign-led consortia on Sunday for the design and construction of the first metro rail system in the capital city of Riyadh, according to Reuters.

The project, which will involve six rail lines, extending 176 kilometres, and carrying electric, driverless trains, is the world’s largest public transport system currently under development, according to Saudi officials.

The design work will start immediately and construction will begin in the first quarter of 2014, the government said. The project would be completed in 2019.

The project “will be a major driver of employment and economic development,” says Ibrahim Bin Muhammad Al Sultan, head of the government body overseeing the project. “It will also help to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.”

The U.S. construction giant, Bechtel Corp, heads a group that won a $9.45bn contract to build two lines, the government announced. Its partners include Germany’s Siemens Aktiengesellschaft and the U.S.-based, AECOM.

A consortium led by Spain’s Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas, including France’s Alstom Transport and South Korea’s Samsung C&T Corp, won a $7.82bn contract for three lines.

Italy’s Ansaldo STS headed a group that won a $5.21bn order. Its partners include the Canadian firm, Bombardier and India’s Larsen & Toubro.

Last August, the government approved a $16.5bn plan to modernise the transport system in the holy city of Mecca, as well as creating a bus network and a metro system.

It is also building several other rail systems, including a 2,750-kilometre line running from Riyadh to near the northern border with Jordan.

Saudi officials said that Riyadh’s population was projected to grow from 6 million to more than 8 million in the next 10 years, making the metro vital to ease congestion and pollution in the capital’s streets.


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