The local Nesma & Partners, which won the $1.75bn contract for the infrastructure work on the King Abdul Aziz Road (KAAR) development project in Mecca in May 2015, has started digging tunnels that will be used for the planned metro scheme.

According to a source familiar with the project, constructing the shell and core of the tunnel and two stations for the metro are part of the contract with Nesma & Partners, which is originally expected to be completed before end of 2017.

An estimated 120 cubic metres of concrete has been poured on the train track along King Abdul Aziz Road, according to a local media report on 28 August.

The track is expected to form part of Line B of the planned Mecca Metro, whose procurement has been delayed due to the kingdom’s decision to review all major contract awards since 2016.

Contracts for the civil work, systems and rolling stock for Lines B and C of the Mecca Metro, which was tendered ahead of Line A, were due to be awarded in late 2015. Line B will be 12km in length with seven stations and will be mostly underground while Line C work will cover 33.2km with 15 stations and will also involve some tunnelling.

Mecca Metro is one of the four planned urban rail projects for which the National Centre for Privatisation is seeking interest in a potential public-private partnership (PPP) technical advisory services role.