Makkah & Madinah

Spanish JV to build Haramain Phase Two

December 2011

THE Haramain high-speed railway project linking Makkah with Madinah, via Jeddah and the King Abdullah Economic City, has gathered steam following the award of the Phase Two contract to the Spanish-Saudi Al Shoula consortium.

The SR33.75-billion ($9 billion) contract, awarded by the Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO), includes the construction of railway tracks, installation of signalling and telecommunication systems, electrification, operational control centre and the procurement of 35 trains. Construction and installation will take three years and it entails a 12-year operation and maintenance period.

The consortium is led by the Saudi Al Shoula Group, a conglomerate headed by Prince Mishaal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, a senior member of the Saudi royal family. It was competing against a French-led consortium. A group of advisers and consultants including Scott Wilson Group was appointed to study the technical proposals and look into the submitted financial bids.

The 12 Spanish member companies of the consortium include state-owned Spanish rail operator Renfe and rail track company Adif (responsible for operations and maintenance), the OHL, Ineco and Cobra construction and engineering groups, Talgo (which will be supplying 35 train sets capable of reaching speeds of 320 kmph) and Invensys RailDimetronic (assigned to provide all signalling and train control systems).

"Invensys Rail’s state-of-the-art European rail traffic management system (ERTMS) Level Two train control system will provide passengers with a reliable and safe journey time between the two Haramain cities of less than two-and-a-half hours, radically enhancing travel facilities in the region and matching the finest high-speed railways in the world," says a spokesman for Invensys.

Invensys’ share of the construction phase is valued at €298 million ($397 million), while its share of the 12-year maintenance phase is €185 million ($246.5 million).

Meanwhile, Cobra, the industrial arm of Spanish builder ACS, will carry out works for €1 billion ($1.4 billion) under the project. Cobra and Inabensa, a unit of Spanish engineering company Abengoa, will be in charge of the installation of the electromechanical equipment for the line.

The civil works package of Phase One of the Haramain project was awarded in 2009 for SR6.8 billion ($1.8 billion) to the Al Rajhi Alliance, which includes the local Mada, France’s Bouygues and China Railway Engineering Corporation. Separately, the package for the construction of stations was awarded early this year to Saudi Binladin Group and Saudi Oger, each sharing four contracts worth $2.5 billion in total.

More than 3,000 properties will be acquired to make way for the rail track between Makkah and King Abdullah Economic City, 40 km from Rabigh, apart from the properties lying in the region between Rabigh and Madinah, says a spokesman for the SRO.

He says the acquisition process is progressing as scheduled and will continue without affecting the progress of the final stage of the project.

The 444-km Haramain railway will see trains run above 300 kmph between Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah and will be particularly important during the Haj pilgrimage period. The trains will have the capacity to transport more than 160,000 passengers a day.

Commuting the 85 km between Jeddah and Makkah will take less than half an hour, while the 410-km distance between Jeddah and Madinah will take about two hours. There will be stations at various locations including at Madinah (Knowledge Economic City) at the northern end of the line, King Abdullah Economic City, King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, and Makkah in the south.

The Makkah Central Station will be located near the Third Ring Road. The Jeddah Central Station will be located on the Haramain Road. The stations, designed to take into account Islamic architecture, will have shops, restaurants, mosques, car parking, a helipad and VIP lounges.

The line will also connect to the Saudi Landbridge and the north-south line, linking Saudi population centres with industrial zones and the new economic cities.

The Landbridge, a railway linking the Red Sea to the Gulf, via Riyadh, involves a new 950-km line between Riyadh and Jeddah and another 115-km track between Dammam and Jubail and expansion of the current Riyadh-Dammam Railway.

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