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Phase II of the Haramain High Speed Rail (HHR) project in Saudi Arabia is commencing soon as the government of Saudi Arabia has signed a SAR30.8 billion (RM25.22 billion) contract with a Saudi-Spanish consortium to take on the project.

The HHR project is a 444km high-speed inter-city rail transport system currently under construction linking the two holy cities of Madinah and Makkah via King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh and King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah.

The rail line is planned to provide a safe and comfortable transport in 320 kilometres per hour electric trains.

Construction started in March 2009. The railway is expected to carry three million passengers a year, including many Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, helping to relieve traffic congestion on the roads.

Under the scope of the contract, the companies will undertake work related to track lying, signalling, telecommunication, power, electrification, operations and maintenance.

In accordance with to the contract, the consortium will purchase 35 trains with 13 carriages. The companies will maintain the line for next 12 years.

The civil works for the project, which include construction of train stations, construction of bridges, flood drainage culverts and pedestrian walkways, will be under taken by Al-Shoula consortium, which comprises Spanish companies including ADIF, RENFE and Talgo,

The Makkah-Madinah rail link is part of the major railway expansion project, which includes linking Jeddah with Riyadh and Dammam. The Makkah-Jeddah-Madinah rail link is expected to carry more than 150,000 passengers daily during peak seasons, such as for Haj and Umrah.

Source : World Construction Network

(this article published in 1BINA.my)