Construction has started on two routes of the light transit railway (LTR) project in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh.

The project falls under the jurisdiction of Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) who will oversee the construction of 36 stations in the first phase alone.

Spanish company CAF have signed a SR612 ($163m) million contract with the SRO to deliver eight train cars, according to Mohammed Abuzaid, spokesman for the SRO.

The eight cars will be delivered over a period of three years and CAF will provide maintenance for four years.

The train has been designed to run at a maximum speed of 200 kilometres per hour. It comprises one locomotive, VIP cars and first and second class cars, complete with cafeteria and other facilities, said CAF.

The first phase of the project involves the construction of a 25-kilometre north-south route and will cover an estimated 30 districts of the city.

The second phase is a 14-kilometre route extending from the eastern side of the ring road across King Abdulaziz Road up to King Khalid Road in the west.

The rail system is expected to transport 1,500 people per hour initially, increasing to 8,000 passengers per hour.

The project is designed to reduce congestion in the capital where 87 per cent of the population use private cars as the primary mode of transport.