• Saudi Arabia to boost transport investment
  • SR525bn ($140bn) to be spent on transport over 10 years

Saudi Arabia plans to expand its investment in its transport infrastructure to SR525bn ($140bn) over the next 10 years, according to Abdullatif al-Othman, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s General Investment Authority (Sagia).

Al-Othman made the announcement during his address at the Japanese-Saudi Business Council in Tokyo on 19 May.

Despite the fall in oil prices since mid-2014 and a recent edict requiring the royal court to approve all projects over $80m, social infrastructure and transport investment is likely to press ahead as the kingdom faces a rapidly growing population.

There are $39bn-worth of transport contracts to be awarded in the next 12 months in Saudi Arabia, according to regional projects tracker, MEED Projects.

Transport has been a major focus in urban areas around the kingdom such as Mecca, Riyadh and Jeddah.

Jeddah

Rapid expansion of the city has been accompanied by a surge in car travel that has seen significant increases in road accidents.

This has led to the city committing to several megaprojects aimed at improving travel conditions, as well as encouraging people to switch to new, high-quality public transport.

New schemes planned for Jeddah include a series of road improvements as well as a public transport network that includes an express metro line, three primary metro lines and a commuter rail link. Phase one projects are programmed for delivery by 2020, with a budget of SR45bn.

In March this year the UK’s Foster+Partners signed an agreement with the governor of Mecca for the architectural city-wide transportation plan for Jeddah.

The contract involved the establishment of a city network plan that integrates different modes of transportation including, metro, ferry and bus.

Foster+Partners has also been awarded an $80m contract for the Jeddah metro system. Under this contract, the firm will be responsible for the designing of all metro stations, buildings, trains and buses for the $12bn metro project.

Riyadh

The vision of Riyadh’s Public Transport Project (PTP), which was approved by the Council of Ministers in 2012, has not been as streamlined as hoped. Approval of the scheme was well received by the region’s construction sector, with the Riyadh Metro becoming central to the programme.

In April Saudi Arabia’s Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) invited companies to submit bids for the contract to provide operation and maintenance services for the Riyadh Metro, which is under construction.

Operating firms have until 1 June to submit prequalification documents for the contract. 

ADA awarded the main construction contracts for the six-line metro project in July 2013. Each package includes the supply of rolling stock.

Mecca

A big part of the city’s redevelopment has been the major upgrade to rail and road links in and around the Mecca area. Central to the transport plan is the Mecca Metro, one element of the wider Mecca Public Transport Programme (MPTP), which also includes a bus network.

The metro was originally planned to be developed on a public-private partnership basis. However, in December 2012, MEED reported that the kingdom had dropped these plans.

In July 2013, US firm Parsons Brinckerhoff won the $93.6m project management office contract for the MPTP. The Mecca project is one of three major upcoming metro schemes planned in the Western Province cities of the kingdom, and comes on the heels of awards on the Riyadh and Jeddah metros.

As well as the metros, the Haramain High-Speed Rail Network was announced in 2009, which will link Mecca with the cities of Medina and Jeddah. It will be 450km in length, with five stations (Central Jeddah, King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Mecca, Medina and King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh) along its route.

However, the scheme has faced delays in the past couple of years. In April, MEED reported that Saudi Railways Organisation had warned the Saudi/Spanish-led consortium Al-Shoula Group that it may be removed from the Haramain Railway project if delays continue to slow down progress.

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