The Saudi Railway Company (SAR) is to release tenders for the construction contracts for the stations that make up the passenger sections of its new Saudi Railway (SAR) project.

The initial tender has been released for the package to build the track and signal maintenance buildings, with a further package to build the passenger stations being released shortly after.

“We are expecting the passenger services to start in around two years time,” says SAR civil and track work manager Bashar Almalik. “The stations are being tendered now and, in fact, we are discussing the track and signal maintenance buildings. This will be the first contract to be awarded.”

The SAR project involves the construction of two lines and a total of 2,400 kilometres of track. One line runs from Al-Haditha near the Jordan border to Riyadh, while the other line will connect phosphate and bauxite mines in the north of the kingdom to the new minerals city at Ras al-Zour in the Eastern Province.  

The minerals line is now 100 per cent completed and is expected to start its initial operations within the next two months.

“Testing and commissioning on the minerals line was completed in early May,” says Almalik. “Initially we are not going to use the railway at maximum capacity and initially we will be operating one train every couple of days.”

The trains carrying minerals will be run at 80km an hour (km/h) when fully loaded and 100km/h when empty. When then passenger service comes into operation, the trains will be powered by diesel locomotives and run at 180-200km/h.

Almalik also says he hoped that SAR would be given more rail projects in the future.

“We are looking into opportunities to look into carrying out other projects,” he says. “We have gained a lot of rail experience and, in my opinion, it would be good to use it.”

SAR is 100 per cent owned by the Saudi Arabian government.