The Saudi Railway Organisation (SRO) is preparing to award contracts for the construction of the $7bn LandBridge rail project.
The LandBridge rail project involves construction of 950km of new line between Riyadh and Jeddah and another 115km track between Dammam and Jubail.
Under the project, the existing rail link between Riyadh and Dammam will be upgraded, including a connection to the new Riyadh-Jeddah and Dammam-Jubail lines.
It also involves integration of the new lines with the Jeddah Islamic Port, King Abdul Aziz Port, Dammam and Riyadh Dry Port.
The LandBridge rail project will be first rail link between the Red Sea and the Gulf which is planned to be implemented and built on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis.
After completion, it will be a major transport link between East Asia and Europe facilitating cargo transport from East Asian countries through to the King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam, and from Europe and North America through the Jeddah Islamic Port.
The project will be financed by the state through its Public Investment Fund, according to constructionweekonline.com.
LandBridge rail line will allow passenger trains to run at a speed of 250km/hr and freight trains to run at a speed of 140km/hr.
Upon completion the journey time between Jeddah and Riyadh will be six hours instead of the current ten to 12 hours it takes by bus, while journey times for freight trains will be reduced to 12 hours from the nine days it takes for shipment through a sea route.
LandBridge will primarily be a freight / container line, interoperable with the North-South railway link, and is expected to carry 35-40 freight trains and five to six passenger trains a day.
Last October four consortia: Agility PWC Logistics Consortium, Mada Consortium, Saudi Binladin Consortium and Al-Muhaidib/ACWA (Tarabot) Consortium, had submitted their offers for the project.
A consortium comprising the UBS Investment Bank, the National Commercial Bank and SNCF International has been selected by SRO to provide financial and technical advice for the project.