Saudi Arabia is preparing to start work on the $7bn Saudi Landbridge project early next year, as the negotiations for the final cost and financing of the project reach the closing stages.
"After the official announcement by the National Industrial Development & Logistics Programme (NIDLP) on Tuesday, the project is expected to be live early next year," a source close to the project told MEED.
In a report published by the local Arabic daily Aliqtisadia on Tuesday 21 November, Suleiman al-Mazrou, CEO of the NIDLP, said that the negotiations regarding the implementation of the project have reached advanced stages.
Earlier this year, Transport & Logistics Minister Saleh al-Jasser said in a forum in Riyadh that Saudi authorities are undertaking negotiations with the Saudi China Landbridge Consortium (SLCC) to determine the final cost and financing of the project.
The SLCC signed a memorandum of understanding to implement the project on a public-private partnership basis in October 2018. The SLCC was formed by Saudi Railway Company (SAR) and China Civil Engineering Construction Company.
Al-Ayuni Contracting was named as the local partner for the consortium. Other members include French firms Systra and Thales; Canada’s WSP; Aldhabaan & Partners, the local partner of UK legal consultancy Eversheds & Sutherland; ALG Infrastructure; and Calx Consultancy.
The Saudi Landbridge project is one of the largest infrastructure projects planned in Saudi Arabia. The scheme is being implemented by the SAR.
It comprises six lines. The first line involves the upgrade of the Jubail Industrial City internal network, which is currently under construction. It will require 10 kilometres (km) of track to be built.
The second is the upgrade of the Jubail to Dammam railway line, which is also currently under construction. It will require 35km of track to be built.
The third line involves the upgrade of the Dammam to Riyadh railway line, with 87km of track to be built.
The fourth line, which is known as the Riyadh bypass, is from the existing network in the north of the city to the south. It is split into two packages, the first has 67km of track and the second has 35km.
The fifth line is a link from Riyadh to Jeddah and then on to King Abdullah Port with three stations at Jamuma, Moya and Al-Doadmi. The Riyadh to Jeddah line will have 920km of track and the Jeddah to King Abdullah Port link will have 146km of track.
The sixth line is a new 172km line from King Abdullah Port to Yanbu Industrial City.
There will also be seven logistics centres: Jubail Industrial City Logistics Centre, Damman Logistics Dry Port, a relocated Riyadh Dry Port, King Khalid Airport Logistics Centre in Riyadh, Jeddah Logistics Dry Port, King Abdullah Port Logistics Centre and Yanbu Industrial City Logistics Centre.
In October 2022, MEED reported that the SAR had received bids from firms to provide project management services for the Saudi Landbridge project. The frontrunner for the contract is a team of Italy’s Italferr with Spain’s Sener and US-based Hill International.
The Landbridge is one of Saudi Arabia’s most anticipated infrastructure projects. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud confirmed the government’s commitment to the Landbridge project in June 2021, when he launched the National Transport & Logistics Strategy.
Plans to develop the Landbridge were announced in 2004, but were then put on hold in 2010. They were revived again in 2011.
MEED previously reported that Saudi Arabia and China will continue working together on the Saudi Landbridge project.
In a joint statement at the end of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia on 9 December 2022, the two countries said: “Regarding the transportation and logistics field, the two sides stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation and joint action on developing the air and sea transport sectors, modern transport modes and railways, and expediting the completion of studies on the Saudi Landbridge project.”
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