US-based Bechtel-led consortium BACS has started tunnelling work on Line 1 of the $23bn Riyadh Metro project in Saudi Arabia.
The consortium, which includes Almabani General Contractors, Consolidated Contractors Company, and Siemens (BACS), is responsible for the $10bn contract for the design, construction, signalling, electrification, and integration of the Lines 1 and 2 of the metro, as well as the provision of rail cars.
Scope of work under the contract includes the construction of 39 stations, two of which are key interchange stations at Olaya district in the centre of the city and in the new King Abdullah Financial District.
Olaya station is on the intersection of Lines 1 and 2, while the King Abdullah station is located slightly to the north on Line 1.
Bechtel director on the project Amjad Bangash said: "The metro, set to be the cornerstone of Riyadh’s new public transport network, will revolutionise how people move around the city.
"Sending our team’s first tunnel boring machine on its underground voyage is a significant step for all.
"Getting early agreement on the alignment in the heart of the city was crucial to advance the detailed design work needed to start tunnelling.
"We appreciate the efforts that our client, Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA), and many other stakeholders undertook in helping us achieve this."
The company said that the first tunnel boring machine (TBM), Mneefah, will steadily ramp up to its planned average tunnelling rate of about 100m per week, and is expected to complete its journey by mid-2016.
As part of this project, a total of seven TBMs will be deployed to dig and build more than 35km of tunnels.
Image: Mneefah, the first TBM, is expected to complete its journey by mid-2016. Photo: courtesy of Bechtel Corporation