French locomotive manufacturer Alstom has signed a €500m ($546) battery-powered tramway contract with the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) in Saudi Arabia to deliver what is claimed will be the world’s largest catenary-free line.

The tramway will span 22.4km, linking 17 stations across AlUla’s five districts, with rolling stock provided by way of 20 Citadis battery locomotives.

Alstom’s project delivery involves system design and integration, installation and testing of the tram sets and the supply of signalling, communication, and depot equipment.

Alongside the tramway’s implementation, the manufacturer will provide full maintenance for 10 years.

Mohamed Khalil, Managing Director of Alstom Saudi Arabia emphasised how the project combines the passenger experience with ‘rich culture’.

Khalil said: “This project is truly unique as it combines sustainability, passenger experience, and immersion into the surroundings, in a region full of history and wonders. It is so much more than a tramway and we are extremely honoured to have been selected by the Royal Commission of AlUla.

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“This project incorporates many key elements of Vision 2030 including Saudi Arabia’s focus on environmental stewardship. We very much look forward to unveiling it to the world”.

According to Alstom, the project will deliver “unique transit options” which involve connections to various UNESCO World Heritage sites. This includes the AlUla Old Town (District 1), Dadan (District 2), Jabal Ikmah (District 3), Nabataean Horizon (District 4), and Hegra Historical City (District 5).

Alstom added that the trams will be manufactured across its French production sites, including La Rochelle, for both design and construction.

This project extends the longstanding relationship between Alstom and Saudi Arabia which currently spans over 70 years. This includes the introduction of the “first-ever hydrogen train” across the Middle East.