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.