Saudi Arabia’s Al-Rashid Trading & Contracting has won a $419m (SR1.57bn) contract to build five passenger stations for the North-South minerals railway project in the kingdom.

The five stations will be built at Al-Majmaj, Qassim, Hail, Al-Jouf and Qurayat. Construction of the stations has now started and is expected to be completed by 2014 in time for the expected start of passenger operations.

A sixth passenger station will be part of a different package that also involves the construction of new headquarters building for the Saudi Railway Company (SAR). Both station and headquarters will be built in Riyadh. This contract will be awarded at a later date, says a source at SAR. The package has been kept separate to account for the planned expansion of King Khalid International airport in the capital.

Construction of the North-South minerals railway was completed in 2011 and is currently under trial operation, carrying 10,000 tonnes of minerals in 104 wagons. The railway line was built to transport raw materials and phosphates from mines to Ras al-Khair, an industrial zone and port. The 1,400-kilometre North-South line will also run from Riyadh to the Jordanian border.

SAR is fully owned by Public Investment Fund (PIF) and was established to build, manage and operate the North-South minerals railway.