Makkah-Madinah high-speed rail link to open in March 2018

When it is finished, the rail link will be able to move 166,000 passengers per day.
Updated 19 November 2016
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Makkah-Madinah high-speed rail link to open in March 2018

MADRID: A delayed high-speed railway linking Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia will finally open in March 2018, the Spanish consortium building the project said Friday.
 
The railway linking Islam’s holiest cities was initially scheduled to open at the end of the year but the date for its completion was moved to the end of 2017.
 
Now, according to a spokesman for the Al-Shoula consortium, “full operations will start in March 2018.” Partial operations will begin a few months earlier, in December, he added.
 
Saudi Arabia in 2011 awarded the contract worth 6.7 billion euros ($7.1 billion) to the consortium of 12 Spanish companies and two Saudi firms for the project which aims to improve transport between the two cities during the annual Haj pilgrimage.
 
According to the spokesman, Saudi authorities agreed to pay an extra SR600 million (150 million euros; $160 million) to compensate additional costs of the project.
 
The contract — one of the biggest Spanish firms have ever undertaken abroad — is for the laying of the 444 km of track between Makkah and Madinah, providing 35 trains and maintaining the line for 12 years.
 
When it is finished, the rail link will be able to move 166,000 passengers per day.
But the project has run into challenges that have added to its costs, leading to disagreements among members of the consortium over who is responsible for resolving them.
 
The rail line crosses the Arabian Desert, where sandstorms are frequent and large dunes can suddenly form, which has added to the difficulties in completing the project.
 
The leading firms in the consortium — Spain’s rail company Renfe, train maker Talgo, and state track operator Adif — have extensive experience with Spain’s own high-speed network, the world’s second largest after China’s.


RBS says Saudi bank merger boosts its core capital

Updated 36 min 10 sec ago
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RBS says Saudi bank merger boosts its core capital

  • RBS had a 15.3% interest in Alawwal bank
  • The changes would boost the banks CET1 core capital ratio by 60 basis points

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) said on Sunday the completion of a merger between Alawwal bank and Saudi British Bank would lead to RBS shedding $5.9 billion of risk weighted assets and boost its core capital.
RBS, through Dutch subsidiary NatWest Markets N.V., was part of a consortium including NLFI and Banco Santander S.A. that held an aggregate 40% equity stake in Alawwal bank, the British bank said in a statement. RBS also had an interest equivalent to a 15.3% stake in Alawwal bank.
RBS said that as a result of the merger completion, it would recognise an income gain on disposal of the Alawwal bank stake for shares received in Saudi British Bank of almost $503 million and a reduction in risk weighted assets of nearly $5 billion.
RBS also said the deal would extinguish legacy liabilities of almost $377.
The changes would increase the bank's CET1 core capital ratio by 60 basis points, it said.
The merger will also help RBS to focus on its target markets, RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said in a statement.
RBS, which was rescued in 2008 with a nearly $57 billion capital injection by the British government, has been shrinking its overseas operations since the financial crisis to focus on its UK lending operations.