Construction has begun on the first phase of a new light transit rail project in Saudi Arabian capital city Riyadh.

The 25km north-south route will extend from the northern side of the ring road to Olaya and Batha streets up to the southern ring road, covering 30 city districts.

The stretch will cover 36 stations through two rail routes, with 23 stations to be built on the first route and 13 stations on the second.

The light rail project, initiated by the Arriyadh Development Authority, is aimed at reducing congestion in Riyadh where 87% of the population use private cars as the primary mode of transport.

The system is expected to serve 1,500 passengers per hour per track initially and later on 8,000 passengers per hour.

The project’s 14km second phase will extend from the eastern side of the ring road across King Abdulaziz Road up to King Khaled Road in the west.

The railway will use SR612m worth of eight-train cars manufactured by the Spanish company CAF, to be delivered within 36 months.