SAUDI Railways Organisation (SRO) has signed a SR391.5-million ($104.4 million) contract with a Saudi contractor for the first phase of track-doubling on the Riyadh-Harad-Dammam freight-only line.
The contract involves doubling a 214-km section of the line from Hofuf to Harad, and the project is expected to take two years to complete.
The contract also aims to enhance SRO’s operational capacity to meet the growing private sector demand for transportation by train.
SRO president Mohamed Al Suwaiket said: “The project will enable it to increase capacity, lengthen trains and cut the 14-hour transit time for freight trains, by reducing the occasions when trains have to wait in passing loops.”
SRO carried 535,264 TEUs last year, the highest number of containers in its history, between King Abdul Aziz port in Dammam and Riyadh dry port and demand is growing from several companies such as Arabian Agricultural Services Company (Arasco), Al Belha, Geerco, the Grain Silos & Flour Mills Organization (GSFMO) as well as cement firms.
“These are companies with large expansion plans which require additional capacity that can be provided by this project,” said a spokesman for SRO.
Al Suwaiket said SRO is keen to increase its share of the freight market emphasising the advantages of movement by train in terms of safety as well as significant benefits to the economy. He said rail transport could help reduce accidents on the roads and road maintenance costs while cutting environmental pollution.
The double-track section will be designed speeds of up to 150 kmph as SRO plans to introduce a passenger service between Hofuf and Harad, and to Al Kharj at a later stage.
Tender documents are being completed for Phase Two of the project to double the section between Riyadh and Al Kharj including fencing, bridges, signalling and communications system.