State-owned Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO) has announced the names of the nine consortia which submitted prequalification applications in early September for the planned $5,000 million Saudi landbridge project. Under SRO's schedule, a shortlist for the build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract will be drawn up in October, which will be followed by the release of a request for proposals (RFP) in November (MEED 9:9:05; 19:8:05).
The successful consortium will design, finance, build and operate a 950-kilometre line between Riyadh and Jeddah and an additional 115-kilometre connection between Dammam and Jubail, and integrate the new links with the existing two lines running between Riyadh and Dammam. The railway will also be closely integrated with Jeddah Islamic Port and King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam to ensure a smooth flow of container traffic, which will make up the bulk of all traffic on the landbridge. A team of the US' Parsons Brinckerhoffand Saudi Consulting Services (SaudConsult)is carrying out a route alignment study. SRO's legal adviser is Linklaters, in partnership with the Saudi Law Office of Abdulaziz H Fahad; the technical adviser is France's Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer International (SNCFI); and a consortium of The National Commercial Bankand UBSis acting as the financial adviser.