The successful bidders will provide financial, legal and technical advisory services for the construction of a 950-kilometre rail link between Riyadh and Jeddah, and a second 115-kilometre link between Dammam and Jubail. Both stretches will connect to the existing railway between Riyadh and the Gulf coast.

The advisory mandate also provides for a feasibility study for an extension into the Hijaz, linking the cities of Mecca, Jeddah, Medina and Yanbu. On completion in 2010, the railway will effectively link the kingdom’s two largest ports and its two largest industrial cities, Jubail and Yanbu. The scope of both consultancy and legal works is broad. The successful legal adviser will be expected to recommend changes to the legal and regulatory environment for the working of the railway in the private sector.

A decision by the subcommittee of the Supreme Economic Council is expected in January on the second major rail project in the kingdom, the 1,200-kilometre minerals railway. The industrial railroad will connect to the planned east-west link and existing rail network at Riyadh. Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden)and Saudi Oger, which are promoting the Jalamid phosphates project, are understood to be waiting on the government to decide on the level of its own participation in the railway scheme before tendering the estimated $1,500 million project.