Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO) has extended the submission deadline to 3 July for contractors to submit bids for work on phase two of the $7bn Haramain high-speed railway network that will link Mecca and Medina.

The initial submission deadline was 1 May. The SRO says that a number of the five bidding consortiums requested an extension to give them more time to prepare their technical and financial proposals.

The SRO says that the extra time given to submit proposals will not affect the opening of the railway line that is scheduled for the end of 2012.

Phase two involves construction of the track, signalling, telecommunications, electrification and building an operational control centre for the railway. Phase two also involves procurement and maintenance of the trains.

Once construction work is complete, the successful bidder will operate and maintain the entire railway for 12 years.

The work on phase two will involve building 25 rail bridges, 157 crossings including wadi bridges and culverts, and 70 crossings for camels and cars in Mecca and Medina.

The SRO prequalified five consortiums to bid on phase two in October 2009. The consortiums are the Saudi Binladin Group; the Badr consortium led by South Korea’s Integrated Transportation Company together with Samsung C&T Corporation; China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corporation consortium; the local Al-Shoula Group; and the local Al-Rajhi Holding Group.

Germany’s Deutsche Bahn withdrew from the Saudi Binladin consortium in February (MEED 23:2:10).

The SRO has also extended the deadline to 12 June for consortiums bidding for work on package two of phase one. Package two involves the design and construction of four stations on the rail line. The UK’s Foster & Partners has now finished the design and eight consortiums are bidding for the construction contract.

The eight consortiums bidding for the contract include: the local Saudi Binladin Group; the local Almabani General Contractors; the local Al-Yamama Company for Trading & Contracting; Saudi Freyssinet; Saudi Oger; the local Al-Arrab Alliance; the local Nesma & Partners Contracting Company; and Azmeel Alliance with China Railway No.17.

The stations will be built in Mecca, Medina, Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City.

Abdulaziz al-Hokail, president of the SRO, says that package one of phase one, which comprises civil works is under way, including roadway excavation, the body of the track, and building bridges and culverts.