The contract for the final phase of the 450km Haramain Railway project in Saudi Arabia will be awarded by the end of this year.

Phase II includes the construction of railroads, installing signals, communications and electricity supply systems and importing trains and rail cars.

The committee supervising the project said the offers by contractors Al-Shola and Al-Rajhi had cleared the review stage.

The contract for building five railway stations in Makkah, Madinah, Jeddah, Rabigh and Jeddah airport will also be awarded soon.

The railway, already under construction, links the cities of Makkah and Madinah with Jeddah, and will reduce travel time between Jeddah and Makkah to half an hour, and two hours between Jeddah and Madinah.

The Al-Rajhi consortium won the SAR6.79bn ($1.8bn) first phase of the contract, while Saudi Electricity Company won a SAR1.8bn ($488m) deal to supply the electricity required for the project.

The railway will open in 2013, according to