The Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO) has awarded a $9.4bn contract to the AlShoula Consortium to deliver the second phase of the Haramain High Speed Rail project that will link the holy cities of Mecca and Medina to Jeddah.

The contract covers the construction of 450km of high-speed track, which is expected to transport over 160,000 passengers a day.

The project involves the construction of railway tracks, electrification and an operational control centre, installation of signalling and telecommunication systems, and supply of 35 Talgo 350 trainsets.

The project will be completed in three years and the consortium will operate and maintain the system for 12 years.

The consortium includes two Saudi Arabian and 12 Spanish companies including Spanish rail operator Renfe, Obrascon Huarte Lain, Talgo, Adif and eight others.

AlShoula Consortium won the contract by outbidding Al Rajhi group, which included Saudi builder Al Rajhi, Alstom and French railway operator SNCF.