Contractors and consultancy companies maintain a positive view of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to privatise its railway sector despite the seemingly open-ended nature of the scope of work for which interest is being sought by Saudi Arabia’s Public Transport Authority (PTA).

“The PTA is indicating a clear intent to test market interest in all the various components of the railway infrastructure… making sure they are not trying to sell something that the market won’t buy,” a source with knowledge of the project tells MEED.

Another source says this approach could work more effectively compared to undertaking a valuation of the railway assets before seeking market interest.

The PTA is seeking interest from consultants, contractors, financial and legal advisory firms and facilities management companies for:

  • operation of freight and passenger services
  • management and maintenance of passenger stations
  • management and maintenance of dry ports
  • maintenance of rolling stock

The existing assets that the solicitation of interest covers are the Riyadh to Dammam lines and the North-South Railway. It could also include the operation of future projects such as the GCC rail network, the Landbridge, and other smaller sections of railway planned within the kingdom.

The solicitation of interest does not include the train operations and rolling stock services for the Haramain High Speed Rail, and the management and operation of existing dry port facilities – such as the one in Riyadh.

An event for companies that express interest in the invitation is planned to be held in Riyadh in the second half of September or early October.

The PTA says it is coordinating its plans with railway companies and stakeholders such as Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO) and the Saudi Railway Company (SAR), as well at the Ministry of Transport, Public Investment Fund (PIF), and Ministry of Economy and Planning.

US-based AT Kearney is advising PTA on the privatisation initiative.