Local and international groups on 16 October submitted bids to Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO)for the project to install a signalling system and a wireless communication system along the existing Riyadh-Dammam freight and passenger railway lines. The turnkey package is estimated to be worth about $125 million-160 million. The upgrade is part of a comprehensive network expansion programme that will involve bringing on board private concessionaires and abolishing the state monopoly in the railway sector (MEED 6:8:04).
The scope of the contract includes the installation of a modern rail signalling system and a GSM railway (GSM-R) communication network - the latest wireless communication standard for railway networks - along 1,000 kilometres of SRO's rail lines. Several consortia, including Australian, Canadian, German and UK companies, are understood to have submitted bids for the project. Among the international companies involved in the consortia are signalling systems provider Westinghouse Rail Systemsof the UK and Germany's Siemens, which offers its own signalling and GSM-R technologies. Canada's Nortel Networksis offering its GSM-R technology. Bid evaluation is expected to take up to two months. In addition to upgrading the existing rail network, SRO is pressing ahead with its expansion programme, which calls for the construction of two new railway lines: a 950-kilometre line connecting the existing railway network to Jeddah will complete the railway link between the Red Sea and the Gulf, with a further 115-kilometre connection between Dammam and Jubail; and a 570-kilometre line in the west linking Jeddah, Mecca, Medina and Yanbu.
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