Mecca Municipality expects to carry out some packages of the planned Mecca Mass Rail Transit (MMRT) project on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis.

“It’s envisioned that we will have one or two PPP contracts, but the final decision is still on the table for discussion,” says a source at Al-Balad Al-Ameen, the development arm of Mecca Municipality.

In March, Mecca Municipality appointed the UK’s Ernst & Young and law firm Ashurst as transaction advisers for the MMRT project (MEED 10:3:11).

Al-Balad al-Ameen plans to invite expressions of interest in the construction packages by the third quarter of this year.

The project is necessary to accommodate the increasing number of pilgrims that visit the city each year. In addition to this, its own population is expected to double to three million people by 2035.

The MMRT project will comprise four lines that will run for 113 kilometres around Mecca once complete and will have 24 stations.

The lines will be constructed in stages. Stage one will involve building lines B and C. Line B will be 10km with six stations and will be built mainly underground. This line will be an extension to the Mecca metro and will serve the pilgrimage sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina. Line B will also connect with the $8bn Haramain high-speed railway.

Line C will be 29km long with 14 stations. This line will be built using tunnels and viaducts. Lines A and D will be constructed in future stages.

The MMRT is due to be complete by 2017.