Riyadh metro project work kicks off
Riyadh, April 16, 2014
Saudi Arabia has begun construction work on its long awaited first metro rail system in Riyadh.
The multi-billion project will involve six rail lines extending 176 km and carrying electric, driverless trains, in what Saudi officials project to be the world's largest public transport system.
Prince Khalid Bin Bandar, the Riyadh emir, attended a groundbreaking ceremony in the capital recently to mark the first day of construction work.
“On this blessed day we witness the start of works on the grounds of the metro project. The phase of research and planning is over and now it is time for implementation,” said Prince Khalid Bin Bandar.
Saudi Arabia awarded $22.5 billion in contracts to three foreign-led consortia for the design and construction of the system.
Prince Khaled said the project, to be completed in 48 months, would improve the quality of life in the saudi capital city.
A high-level committee has been set up to solve all problems facing its implementation, including traffic problems, he was quoted as saying by an Arab News report.
Digging work started in five places last week including for the metro station at King Khaled International Airport, Al-Olaya Station, its control centre and railway maintenance station.
Al-Olaya Station, covering an area of 28,000 sq m, will have shopping centres, service facilities and car parking areas. It will serve 400,000 passengers daily.
The airport station will be located at the fifth terminal, which is being constructed, the official said.
The Fast consortium, which is led by Spanish construction group FCC, will build three lines totaling 73km in a deal worth $7.82 billion. Its partners include Alstom; Samsung C&T; Strukton, Netherlands; Freyssinet, Saudi Arabia; Typsa, Spain; and Setec, France.
The Arriyadh New Mobility Group (ANM) will construct the 40.7km Red Line from Madinah Road to Prince Saad bin Abdul Rahman Road in a contract worth $5.21 billion.
Finally, the Bechtel-led BACS consortium will build the 39km Blue Line from Olaya Street to Batha Street and Al-Hayer Road, and the 25km Green Line along King Abdullah Road. The contract has a total value of $9.45 billion.
While the metro is unlikely to persuade some Saudis to abandon their love for the automobile, others may welcome the chance to escape severe traffic congestion in the capital. The new service will also enable lower-income individuals to head around the city.