The SRO also revealed subsequent to the meetings the full list of prequalified consortium members. They are led by Saudi Binladin Group and El-Seif Engineering Contracting, France’s Bouygues and the UK’s Lazard & Company, the local Mada Company for Industrial & Commercial Investment (Al-Rajhi Investment Group) and Kuwait-based PWC Logistics.

Under the SRO schedule, the 30-year concession to operate the landbridge rail link was due to be awarded by the third quarter, although this is now expected in early 2007. The successful consortium will design, finance, build and operate a 950-kilometre line between Riyadh and Jeddah, a 115-kilometre connection between Dammam and Jubail and integrate the new links with the existing two lines running between Riyadh and Dammam.

A team of the US’ Parsons Brinckerhoff and 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 Bank and UBS is acting as the financial adviser.