SRO in late September invited financial advisers to express interest in bidding for the consultancy contract on the project, which is to be carried out by the private sector on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis.

The legal scope of works is broad. The successful bidder will be expected to recommend changes to the legal and regulatory environment for the working of the railway in the private sector, in addition to carrying out due diligence on existing studies, preparing tender documents and advising on negotiations.

The kingdom’s railway network has until now been a one-track affair, with a single connection between Riyadh and Dammam via Hofuf. The new SRO plans envisage a 950-kilometre link between Jeddah and Riyadh to connect the Gulf and Red Sea coasts; a 115-kilometre line from Dammam to the industrial city and port facilities of Jubail; and a 570-kilometre line connecting Mecca to Jeddah, Medina and Yanbu.

Another railway is also being planned outside the remit of SRO to connect the mineral-rich north to Riyadh and on to the Gulf coast. That project is being carried out by Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden)and Saudi Oger. The two companies have recently appointed advisers for their project, with ANZ Investment Bankand Riyad Banktaking the financial package and Baker & McKenziethe legal package (MEED 18:10:02).