Saudi Arabia is to build two railway lines linking the north and west of the kingdom to the Gulf coast at a cost of 2.6 billion dollars, a communications ministry official said Saturday.
Abdullah al-Muqbel, undersecretary at the communications ministry, told Okaz newspaper that the projects would be financed by the private sector and studies had already been completed.
Construction will take five years, he said, without giving a date for the start of work.
Al-Mugbel, quoted by Saudi Press Agency (SPA), told the Jeddah-based Saudi Gazette the first phase of the project will start from Jeddah seaport and end in Riyadh covering a length of 980 km.
At this point in Riyadh, the line will be linked to the current network bound to the eastern region and Mecca.
The 1,480-km second phase will start from al-Huditha gate in the north of the kingdom and pass through al-Jalameed, Jouf, Hayel and Qassim.
There, the network will be linked to the existing network in the eastern region where an overlap will be connected to Jubail to unload phosphate.
The official pointed out that Riyadh will be a terminus for the railway network.
According to AFP, Saudi authorities wanted Japan's Arabian Oil Company (AOC) to finance the construction of the northern railway in exchange for a renewal of an AOC oil concession in the Saudi sector of a neutral zone shared with Kuwait.
But the company and Japan's government refused on the grounds the railway -- priced at the time at two billion dollars -- would not be financially viable, leading AOC to lose the 40-year concession which ran out in February – (Agencies)
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