A Saudi-led consortium has been formally awarded the $720m fourth construction package on the North-South minerals railway.

Al-Ayuni Trading & Contracting Company and Al-Abdulaziz al-Omer Establishment for Trading & Contracting led the group that will build the 480-kilometre-long passenger line between Al-Zabirah junction and King Khaled International airport in Riyadh.

MEED revealed in March that the group led by Al-Ayuni and Al-Omer was the lowest bidder on the contract. The fourth construction package is the last of the main civil works contracts to be awarded on the 2,300km-long minerals railway (MEED 20:3:09).

The package was retendered in August 2008. The Public Investment Fund of the Finance Ministry – the client on the project – decided that the low bidder, Russian Railways, had not met all the requirements with its $800m offer. The retender prompted the state-owned rail group to accuse Riyadh of political bias, a claim denied by the client and its advisers (MEED 17:10:08).