Saudi Railways Organizations (SRO) has announced that the freight component of the project for expansion of the Kingdom’s rail system, known as the ‘Landbridge’, is now open for bidding on the basis of BOT (build-operate-transfer). The ‘Landbridge’ project comprises two components, passenger transport and freight. The rail expansion in question, involving some 725 miles of new track, is from Jubail Industrial City in the Eastern Province to the Arabian Gulf port of Dammam; from there, there are tracks to Riyadh Dry Port, but the line needs to be extended onward to Jeddah Islamic Port.
Tenders will in due course be offered for the passenger service concession. The freight concessionaire, however, retains responsibility for track construction and maintenance, and all the infrastructure of signaling. SRO will transfer to the concessionaire all existing assets, including the Dammam-Riyadh track, the Riyadh Dry Port, and all land needed for the project.
During 2004, SRO transported over 283,000 containers, and carried about 1.3 million passengers. Five million of the Kingdom’s fourteen million nationals live in the Riyadh area, and will directly benefit from the new freight route.