Saudi Railway Company (SAR) expects to award the construction contract for the six passenger stations for the North-South Minerals line in late October or early November.

It will take two years to build the stations so passenger operations will start in about 2014. The passenger service will also be available between Riyadh and Al-Haditha on the Jordanian border.

The North-South Minerals railway is currently under trial operation, carrying 10,000 tonnes in 104 wagons.

The railway line was built to transport raw materials and phosphates from mines to Ras al-Khair, an industrial zone and port.

The 1,400-kilometre North-South line will also run from Riyadh to the Jordanian border. SAR is also now responsible for the construction of the Jubail-Dammam railway line, which was initially due to be part of the proposed Landbridge. SAR will also be responsible for the internal network in Jubail and the line from Ras al-Khair to Jubail.

Ras al-Khair was previously called Ras al-Zour.

“The expansion of rail is a must,” says Rumaih al-Rumaih, chief executive officer of SAR during MEED’s Mena Rail Projects 2011 conference.

SAR will tender the construction contract for the Ras al-Khair-Jubail line in October, the Jubail-Dammam line will be tendered in December and the internal railway in Jubail will be tendered in January or February 2012.

SAR is fully owned by Public Investment Fund (PIF) and was established to build, manage and operate the North-South minerals railway.