Saudi east-west railway to cost $1.7 billion

Published April 29th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

A rail link between the east and west coasts of Saudi Arabia, one of four railway projects being considered by Riyadh, is estimated to cost 6.5 billion riyals ($1.7 billion), a newspaper reported Friday, April 27. 

 

The 950-kilometer (595-mile) link between Jeddah on the Red Sea and Dammam on the Gulf, Saudi Arabia's largest ports, is expected to boost cargo transport by 19.5 percent to 30 million tons a year, Al-Iqtissadiya business daily said. 

 

The project will also transport 23 million passengers a year. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia has invited the private sector to construct the railways, but the authorities are still evaluating options to award the projects, with the build-operate-transfer (BOT) being favored. 

 

Several foreign and local firms are bidding for the projects to expand the Saudi railways. Japan last year turned down a Saudi request to finance a two-billion-dollar rail link between phosphate mines in the north and industrial centers in eastern Saudi Arabia. 

 

The decision cost Tokyo an oil-drilling concession, which Riyadh refused to renew in February 2000. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the Arabian Peninsula with a railway. It was originally built under the Ottomans to transport Muslim pilgrims to Islam's holiest sites in Mecca. — (AFP, Riyadh) 

 

© Agence France Presse 2001

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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