Saudi Arabia Denies Awarding Railway Contract to Spanish Consortium


24.07.2011 by Hassan Shahin

An official with the Saudi railway committee denied journalist reports that Spanish construction companies were awarded the $7 billion dollar project to establish railways between Jeddah, Median city and Mecca.  Nadim Shehada told AFP over the phone that “a contract to establish railways has not been awareded to the Spanish coalition” but refused to reveal more details.

Spanish newspapers announced that a consortium of Spanish construction companies, including RENFE, Talgo, Adiv, OHL and others were awarded the railway contracts. Journalist reports, cite the Spanish Ambassador, Pablo Bravo, as saying that “the Saudi railways committee invited the Spanish coalition to visit its headquarters in Dammam next month to discuss technical details about the train network”. The ambassador refused to confirm or deny having seen the contracts, but said that Spain has become among the first countries in the world in the field of train networks, especially high-speed train networks, and that it has the longest network in Europe.  Competition for the rail contract has resulted in a decline in bid value from ten billion euro to seven billion euro.  The winning group will give the vehicles and provide maintenance of the fast railway for 12 years.

Saudi, French and Spanish groups also bid on the fast train project between Jeddah, Medina and Mecca. Five groups competed, including German, Chinese and South-Korean companies to win the Metro Project “Holy,” a rapid, long 450 km express train to help transport pilgrims between the three cities in the annual pilgrimage. During the annual Hajj season, Saudi Arabia receives about 2.5 million Muslims from around the world.

Saudi Arabia wants the project to be completed this year, and will employ 5000 Chinese workers to work 24 hours a day in shifts.  The railway is considered to be an important project since it will replace the 12000 buses typically used during Hajj.  The trains will accommodate two million passengers, thereby clearing up the crowd congestion Mecca has been dealing with for the last 100 years.



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