EXCLUSIVE: Firms expect Riyadh and Doha metro package awards soon

26 September 2017

Several rail operators have submitted a bid for both schemes

Firms bidding for the contracts to operate and maintain (O&M)  the $23bn Riyadh Metro in Saudi Arabia and the combined $21bn Doha Metro and Lusail tramway networks in Qatar expect to be notified of the official results of the bidding process within weeks.

A number of urban rail operators, including French firms RATP Dev and Keolis and UK’s Serco, have submitted a proposal for both schemes.

“Of course I want to win … but we, like the other bidders, are still waiting for the final decision,” Laurence Battle, CEO of RATP Dev, tells MEED.

The executive says they have two dedicated teams that are prepared to work on both schemes if the firm, which submitted an independent bid for the Riyadh Metro and partnered with Keolis for the Doha Metro and Lusail Tramway package, will be selected. “I don’t foresee any capacity issue if we get awarded both projects,” Battle says.

Both schemes are expected to be completed by 2019.

Firms that are understood to have been shortlisted for the Riyadh Metro O&M include:

Other bidders include Serco and Korail (South Korea).

Saudi Arabia’s Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) has indicated it could award two to three O&M contracts for the metro’s six lines.

Groups that submitted an offer for the Doha Metro and Lusail tramway are:

  • Serco (UK)
  • Transdev (France)
  • RATP Dev (France) / Keolis (France)
  • Arriva (UK) / DB International (Germany)

Battle participated in a panel on public-private partnership (PPP) during the first Emirati-French Business Summit held at the Dubai Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) headquarters on 25 September.

Battle says the key challenge for undertaking transport PPPs in the region goes beyond the absence of PPP regulations in some countries or cities. “Discussions on how to increase revenues, extend the lifecyle of assets and find innovative ways of financing these projects are very relevant,” she says.

Diversifying and expanding revenue sources to include advertising, retail spaces and real-estate to supplement ticket sales are among the options raised for increasing revenues from assets such as rail. “We all know that ticket sales alone cannot cover the operation and maintenance costs as well as [the servicing of] debts,” the executive explains.

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