China Railway Construction Corporation forecasts a loss of RMB4.2bn ($621m) on the Mecca light railway project in Saudi Arabia.

“The project is expected to incur significant loss during the course of implementation as the actual work quantities have significantly exceeded the estimated figures at the time of signing of the contract,” says a company statement.

On 31 December 2009, the estimated contract value was RMB12.4bn, which rose to RMB16.1bn on 30 September 2010.

The $1.8bn Al-Mashaaer al-Mugadassah light railway is scheduled to begin limited operations on 13 November and is designed to transport the millions of pilgrims that visit Mecca each year. It will link Mecca with the holy sites at Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.

The light railway will achieve 35 per cent of the total capacity on 13 November and will achieve full capacity in May 2011.

China Railway signed a contract on 10 February 2009 with the kingdom’s Municipality and Rural Affairs Ministry to build and operate the railway (MEED 11:2:09). The company will operate and maintain the railway for three years from the start of operations.