Tenders were issued to the six prequalified consortiums on 23 September for the civil works contract that forms the first phase of the 444-kilometre-long railway between the two holy cities.

The consortiums must submit their bids by 15 December, with the Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO) expected to name a winner within two months.

“We have received the documents and will be speaking to our consortium partners in the coming days,” says a senior official at a company leading one of the bidding groups.

Bidding on the Haramain scheme was originally expected in July, but was delayed because the Municipalities Ministry failed to certify all the consortiums ahead of the summer holiday period (MEED 11:7:08).

The civil works package will be followed by a contract to build stations along the route, and a third package covering rolling stock, track, communications and signalling systems, as well as operations and maintenance work.

The coming weeks will be busy in the Saudi rail sector. Contractors must submit prequalification submissions for the passenger concession on the Saudi Landbridge project by 15 October.

Tenders have also been re-issued by the Finance Min-istry’s Public Investment Fund for the fourth construction package on the proposed North-South minerals railway.