Saudi Arabia could be considering one central delivery structure and mechanism for its planned urban metro projects in Mecca, Jeddah, Dammam and Medina.

“It is likely a central structure to control the delivery of these projects is being considered,” a source familiar with the schemes tells MEED.

This follows an announcement made in March by Rumaih al-Rumaih, president of the Public Transport Authority (PTA) and Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO), that the planned schemes, which are at various stages of planning and procurement, will now be developed in partnership with the private sector.

It is also understood that the Saudi government is preparing a privatisation roadmap specifically for the transport sector, which is due to be released before the end of 2017.

The document is expected to provide a clear direction in terms of procuring projects for the kingdom’s public transport sector, where planned schemes have been struggling to launch since 2016 due to financing constraints.

Of the four urban rail schemes, the public transport project in Mecca is at the most advanced procurement stage. An estimated $8.8bn of contracts were yet to be awarded to five contractors in late 2015, when the government ordered a kingdom-wide review of project awards.

Al-Rumaih confirmed that these contracts are now being negotiated as a PPP.

Four of the packages are for lines B and C of the Mecca metro development, while the fifth contract is for a bus system and network. The award process for the bus system started in March, although the final contract has not been awarded.

Metro Jeddah Company sought and received interest from contractors for the metro civil works, rolling stock and bus schemes between September and December 2015. However, no further developments on the scheme were reported until March, when Al-Rumaih confirmed they are considering delivering all unawarded urban metro schemes as a public-private partnership (PPP) project.