By a Staff Writer
Publication Date: 
Thu, 2003-01-16 03:00

RIYADH, 16 January 2003 — The Kingdom has short-listed eight foreign companies out of 32 firms which bid to become the financial consultant for the country’s mega railway project, the head of the Saudi Railways Organization said.

The short list includes companies from Australia, Europe, Japan and the United States, some of which have a local partner, Khaled Al-Yahya said.

“We have invited the selected firms to send their offers. The winner will be picked within the next two months,” Yahya told AFP news agency.

The financial consultant will formulate the projects and then invite offers from international and local firms to construct the railways on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis, he said.

They will also submit complete studies for the privatization of the railways and integrating it into the company or consortium that will be awarded the project.

The winner of the 1,600-km project, expected to cost several billions of dollars, will be granted a concession for a long duration which has yet to be determined, said Yahya.

The main project envisages adding a 950-kilometer rail link between Riyadh and the Kingdom’s main commercial port of Jeddah on the Red Sea.

This will complete the rail link between the country’s east and west coasts through the existing 450-km link between Riyadh and Dammam on the Gulf coast.

Another 570-km rail link is planned between Jeddah and the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. The line will also extend north to Yanbu, an industrial city on the Red Sea.

A third 115-km railway is planned to link Dammam with the industrial city of Jubail on the Gulf coast. Actual construction is expected to commence within two years and the railways will be ready three years later, Yahya said.

The organization’s board of directors met in Jeddah yesterday and discussed the project’s executive program.

Communications Minister Dr. Nasir Al-Salloum, who chaired the meeting, said the railway linking the northwest with Riyadh will be implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.

Earlier speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Yahya said the Supreme Economic Council has approved the railway expansion plan.

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