Riyadh’s $3bn metro or light rail project will now go ahead on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis as it did not receive approval for government funding.

Saudi Arabia’s Arriyadh Development Authority was expected to issue the tender documents for the design and build contracts by the end of March this year and four consortiums had expressed an interest in bidding (MEED 31:1:10).

Riyadh metro, however, was not included in the government’s $144bn budget for the year.

Sources close to the project now expect that a final decision on how to fund the project will be made by the end of August.

The project is now likely to be put to the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) which is also financing the $7bn Haramain high-speed railway between Mecca and Medina in order to speed up construction.

The consultancy team working on the project includes Beirut-based Dar al-Handasah and France’s Egis Rail.

When completed, the light rail network will have two lines. The first line will be a 25-kilometre north-south line with 23 stations and line two will be a 14-kilometre line stretching east to west across Riyadh with 13 stations.