|Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf on Saturday signed three contacts worth SR2.34 billion with Saudi Arabian Railway (SAR) to implement a number of projects related to the North-South Railway.|
Beginning from Riyadh, the 2,750-km railway reaches up to the northern border town of Hudaitha passing by Sudair, Qassim, Hail and Al-Jouf. It also links the phosphate and bauxite mines in Jelamaid and Baitha with industrial plants in Ras Al-Khair, Jubail and Dammam.
The contracts were signed to establish five passenger stations; a maintenance complex in Naeeriya and 36 maintenance workshops, a technical support office and housing units for maintenance staff.
Al-Rashid Trading & Contracting won the first contract worth SR1.57 billion to establish five passenger stations in Majmaa, Qassim, Hail, Al-Jouf and Qurayat. Each station will cost SR314.4 million. The project will be completed in 24 months.
The SR495.7 million maintenance complex project was won by Yabi Markazi Co., an official statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency said, adding that it would be completed within 18 months. It will provide maintenance to locomotives and carriages as well as to the railway track. The project includes fuel supply stations.
Sulaiman Al-Qudaibi & Sons won the third contract valued at SR271.58 million to establish 36 small maintenance workshops along the railway line including 15 for the maintenance of railway tracks and communication systems, 11 buildings to house workers and eight administrative buildings.
Speaking to reporters after the signing ceremony, Al-Assaf said the North-South Railway project was progressing well. "Last year we conducted experimental operation of the railway for transporting phosphate from Jelamaid to Ras Al-Khair," he said, adding that it currently transports 12,500 tons of phosphate in one trip. "It is the total weight that can be carried by 500 large trucks."
The government has given priority to the North-South Railway considering its role in industrial development. It would ferry minerals from mines in the north and central zones at Jelamaid and Zubairah to processing plants at Ras Al-Khair in the east.
Sponsored by the Public Investment Fund, the rail line is integral to planned phosphate and bauxite mining projects in the north of the country that will link up with processing plants and smelters on the Gulf coast.
It is of strategic importance to the national economy as the processing of phosphates, which exists in commercial quantities, will place the Kingdom second internationally in exports of the mineral, besides accommodating fertilizer industry technology. It will also increase oil, agricultural and industrial products transportation, as well as goods and passengers.