FCC is leading the Fast consortium on a $7.82-billion Riyadh Metro deal. The project, the largest ever for any Spanish Construction company, includes building three lines.
Work on the Riyadh Metro has been gathering pace following the ground-breaking ceremony at the project site in Riyadh last April.
The Fast consortium led by Spanish company FCC became the first of the three consortia on the $22.5-billion project to launch work on site on Line Four of the metro. Under a $7.82-billion contract, the consortium is responsible for lines Four, Five and Six of the project.
FCC, the Citizen Services group, is leading the consortium which includes Samsung (Korea), Alstom (France), Strukton (The Netherlands), Freyssinet Saudi Arabia and engineering companies Atkins (UK), Typsa (Spain) and Setec (France), in charge of the design and construction of the three lines.
The contract is part of the overall 176-km metro, which is believed to be the longest metro currently under construction in the world and it is anticipated that over the five-year course of the project, 50,000 people will be employed in its construction.
The project is a major milestone for FCC, as it is the largest international construction contract ever awarded to a Spanish company. The company is drawing on its vast international experience of tunnel and metro projects for its work on the Riyadh Metro.
Commenting on winning the contract, FCC’s CEO and vice-president Juan Bejar says: “This award accredits Spanish construction companies’ international reputation in infrastructure, specifically that of FCC, whose references were decisive in successfully securing this contract.”
“The Riyadh subway dovetails with FCC’s new international strategy in construction, which is focused on infrastructure and in countries where we can best leverage our capabilities,” he adds.
FCC is building Lines Four, Five and Six of the Riyadh Metro. Line 4, the Yellow Line, reaches King Khalid International Airport from King Abdullah Financial District, the new financial hub being built in Riyadh. The 29.6-km line features eight stations and is being built on a mix of elevated and at-grade alignment.
Line Five, the Green Line, is 12.9-km long, with 10 stations, and runs along King Abdulaziz Street to connect with King Abdullah Road. The line runs completely underground in a bored tunnel.
Line Six, the Purple Line, is shaped in a half ring and starts at the King Abdullah Financial District, passing by Imam Mohamed Bin Saud University and ending at Prince Saad Ibn Abdulrahman Al Awal Road. The line is mainly elevated, 29.9 km in length and has eight stations, including connections with Lines One, Two and Three.
“The project requires tunnel boring machines (TBM) to build tunnels almost 10 m in diameter for the three lines,” explains a spokesman for FCC.
The TBMs being used are earth pressure balance machines (EPBMs). FCC is currently excavating station 4G1 that will serve Terminal 5 of King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, and also excavating the area where the central and northern launching shafts of Line Five will be built.
Construction will require 600,000 tonnes of steel, which is 80 times the amount used to build the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, and 4.3 million cu m of concrete, which is 11 times the amount used for Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper.
These lines will use 69 trains, each comprised of two driverless cars supplied by Alstom.
FCC is expecting to complete Lines Four, Five and Six of the metro by the end of 2018, in line with the Saudi government’s proposed timeline for the whole metro works.
The Riyadh Metro project is part of King Abdullah’s $130-billion stimulus package launched in 2011 to raise living standards in Saudi Arabia, where currently just two per cent of the capital’s 5.7 million inhabitants use public transport. With the population expected to rise to 8.3 million by 2030, providing a solution to the city’s transport needs has become even more pressing. In 2013, the year the metro contracts were awarded, Saudi Arabia saw its transport and telecoms budget expand to $17.3 billion – its fastest growth since 2004.
The recent groundbreaking of the Riyadh Metro comes in the midst of a number of major construction contract announcements across some of the Gulf states. In particular, transport and railways are receiving significant investments, with governments set to spend $155 billion on transport – $50 billion of which will be spent on railways – between now and 2020. This amounts to 22 per cent of total infrastructure spend, according to a report by EC Harris, an international built asset consultancy firm.
Meanwhile, FCC has established strong links within the Middle East and has amassed a wealth of experience through successful partnerships with government and companies across the region. In addition to the Riyadh Metro, FCC’s water division, FCC Aqualia, is working on a water supply network in Riyadh for Saudi Arabia’s national water company.
In Qatar, FCC has partnered with local civil engineering firm Petroserv to tender for projects in the region, including the building of two pedestrian walkways and Phase Two of the Barzan camp housing development in Al Wajba, 15 km from the capital city, Doha.
In March 2013, FCC had also secured a $697-million contract from the Qatar Railways Company to build a section of Doha Metro red line. Qatar awarded contracts worth $8.2 billion for the first phase of the Doha Metro last year, as part of its preparation process to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup.
FCC has also recently formed a consortium with an Indian company and a local Omani company in order to present an expression of interest for the construction of Oman’s railway project. The first 250-km section of the project is valued at $990 million.
Santiago Ruiz, FCC deputy corporate manager for the Middle East, comments: “The Middle East is one of FCC’s priority markets in international construction. We are absolutely committed to performing to the best of our abilities here, and we do that by bringing know-how, expertise, sustainable construction and social responsibility, which help to deliver on the strategic vision of governments across the region.”
Globally, the company recently inaugurated Central America’s first metro, in Panama City, in a ceremony on April 5, after completing the $2-billion project earlier this year. The challenges of the Panama Metro largely centred on the availability of equipment and materials, some of which had to be shipped in, such as the two large-diameter TBMs used on the project and four hydromill trench cutters to build the underground stations.
In addition to Panama, FCC is also working on a line of the Toronto Metro in Canada and the Bucharest Metro in Romania, as well as an extension of the Athens Metro in Greece.