The four selected consortiums are led by Saudi Binladin Group, France’s Bouygues, the local Mada Company for Industrial & Commercial Investment (Al-Rajhi Investment Group) and Kuwait’s PWC Logistics. Under the SRO schedule, the 30-year concession to operate the landbridge rail link was due to be awarded by the third quarter, although this is now likely to be towards the end of the year.

The successful consortium will design, finance, build and operate a 950-kilometre line between Riyadh and Jeddah and an additional 115-kilometre connection between Dammam and Jubail, and integrate the new links with the existing two lines running between Riyadh and Dammam. The railway will also be closely integrated with Jeddah Islamic Port and King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam to ensure a smooth flow of container traffic, which will make up the bulk of all traffic on the landbridge.

A team of the US’ Parsons Brinckerhoff and Saudi Consulting Services (SaudConsult) is carrying out a route alignment study. SRO’s legal adviser is Linklaters, in partnership with the Saudi Law Office of Abdulaziz H Fahad; the technical adviser is France’s Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer International (SNCFI); and a consortium of The National Commercial Bank and UBS is acting as the financial adviser.

The SRO is also pressing ahead with its proposed Mecca-Medina passenger rail link. Companies have been invited to a project day in Jeddah on 23 May (MEED 17:3:06).

www.meed.com/transport