Saudi car­ries out tests on high speed train ahead of launch this year

Gulf Business - - NEWS AND VIEWS - By Aarti Na­graj

high-speed rail­way pro­ject is on course to be­gin op­er­a­tions later this year af­ter Saudi Ara­bia car­ried out a suc­cess­ful test run.

The train made a trip from King Ab­dul­lah City in Rabigh to Mad­i­nah, clock­ing up speeds of up to 300kmh, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal press, edg­ing the long-awaited open­ing ever closer.

The SAR62bn ($16.5bn) pro­ject was orig­i­nally due to open in 2012, but is now ex­pected to be com­pleted by the end of this year, although only some sta­tions will be open ini­tially.

It will con­nect Mecca and Mad­i­nah via Jed­dah air­port and King Ab­dul­lah Eco­nomic city in Rabigh, with the 450km line ex­pected to cut travel be­tween Mecca and Jed­dah to 21 min­utes, Jed­dah to King Ab­du­laziz Air­port to 14 min­utes, King Ab­du­laziz Air­port to Rabigh to 36 min­utes and Rabigh to Mad­i­nah to 61 min­utes.

End-to-end, the travel time be­tween Mecca and Mad­i­nah will be less than two and a half hours.

Saudi’s Gen­eral In­vest­ment Fund (GIF) has fi­nanced and fa­cil­i­tated the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­ject, which has been hit by de­lays and cost in­creases.

In Novem­ber last year, it was an­nounced that the Span­ish con­sor­tium build­ing the rail link had reached a pre­lim­i­nary deal with the Saudi gov­ern­ment to fi­nalise the works af­ter the de­lays.

The Al Shoula con­sor­tium com­pris­ing 12 Span­ish com­pa­nies and two Saudi firms had be­come em­broiled in a dis­pute over pay­ments with the Saudi gov­ern­ment.

The con­sor­tium’s con­tract, val­ued at EUR6.7bn ($7.11bn), is ex­pected to be ex­tended to March 2018, 14 months later than orig­i­nally planned, a spokesman said.

When ready, the pro­ject will pro­vide 35 pas­sen­ger cars on two-way trips be­tween Mecca and Mad­i­nah.

The trains are be­ing man­u­fac­tured by Talgo and have a max­i­mum com­mer­cial speed of 300kmh. Each train will have 13 cars pro­vid­ing 417 seats, with a to­tal length of 215m.

The pro­ject is pro­jected to serve 60 mil­lion pas­sen­gers an­nu­ally.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.