2004 News Story

Legal advisory contract signed for railway expansion projects

Minister of Finance Dr Ibrahim Al-Assaf, in his capacity as Chairman of the Board of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), together with Minister of Transport Dr. Jubarah Al-Suraiseri, who is Chairman of the Board of the Saudi Railways Organization (SRO), have signed the legal advisory services contract for the railway expansion program with the international London-based law firm Linklaters in association with the Saudi law office of Abdulaziz H. Fahd.

The Supreme Economic Council (SEC) has approved SRO as the executing agency for an expansion program that consists of two new rail projects:

  1. the Saudi ‘land bridge’, to connect the Red Sea port of Jeddah with the existing railway network at Riyadh, a distance of about 600 miles, with a further 70 miles extending from the Arabian Gulf port of Dammam north to Jubail;
  2. the Western Railway, a network of about 350 miles connecting Jeddah with Makkah, Madinah and Yanbu, that would primarily provide passenger services for pilgrims to the Two Holy Cities.

The implementation and privatization of the railway expansion program will be based on the BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer) model, granting investors the right to operate the expanded network and collect revenues for a specified duration after which ownership will be transferred to the Saudi Government. The selection of the legal advisors was carried out through open tenders based on quality and cost criteria, with seven firms short-listed from a total of 34 interested parties. Linklaters is a widely-recognized leading international law firm.

The signing of the agreement follows last month’s signing of the financial and technical advisory services agreement with an international consortium comprising London’s UBS Investment Bank, SNCFI of France, and the National Commercial Bank (NCB) in the Kingdom. SRO will announce in due course a schedule of road shows to provide a convenient forum for dialogue with prospective investors.