France’s Thales has won a contract for the one-year maintenance of the 2,400-kilometre North-South Railway project in Saudi Arabia.

The maintenance contract includes corrective activities as well as predictive maintenance that will enable rail operators to fix assets before they fail, Thales said in a statement.

The value of the contract, which Thales says is extendable in the coming years, was not disclosed

Thales has been awarded a one year renewable maintenance contract for the 2,400 km lines – mineral and passenger – of the North South Railway project crossing Saudi Arabia. This contract demonstrates the trust relationship built with Saudi Railway Company over years of collaboration to deploy the complete transportation systems on the line.

The North-South Railway (NSR) project is understood to be the world’s longest route to adopt the European signalling system (ETCS level 2). The project involves construction of a single 2,400 km track, sidings, yards, depots, stations and administrative facilities to create a line that has its origin in the capital city Riyadh, in the northwest of the country, to Al-Haditha, near the border with Jordan.

The NSR has both passenger and freight lines. The 1,486km freight line, which started to operate in November 2015, originates from the Al-Jalamid phosphate belt in northern Saudi Arabia to Al-Zabirah, which hosts the kingdom’s rich bauxite deposits in the centre. It then runs eastwards to the processing and manufacturing facilities in Ras al-Khair on the Gulf, where the final products are shipped by sea. Freight trains on this line run at 80 kilometres per hour (kph) when loaded and 100kph when empty.

The passenger line runs 1,418km from the capital in Riyadh and passes through industrial stations in Sudair, Al-Qassim, Hail, Al-Jouf and Al-Baseta to Al-Haditha. The trains will have a top speed of 200 kph and service is expected to commence late this year.