Consortium building Mecca to Medina rail given “final warning”

The government of Saudi Arabia has warned the consortium building the 450km high-speed rail link between Mecca, Jeddah and Medina that "time is running out".  

The warning was delivered after Abdullah bin Abdulrahman al-Muqbel, the kingdom’s new transport minister, visited the Mecca station and bridges along the route at the end of last year.  

After the inspection the transport ministry issue a statement warning that the government was unhappy with the progress of the work. It said: "This is considered a final warning either to commit and improve performance or face the consequences." 

After visiting the Mecca station and bridges along the route, Muqbel told the contractor – which was not named – "to present an urgent plan to avoid delays within the next two months", by increasing the workforce and supplies. 

The consortium that is building the $9.4bn link was chosen in October 2011. It is made up of Saudi and Spanish companies. These include Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Españoles (Renfe) and Adif, the state-owned companies that run the Spain’s national rail system. The civil engineering is being undertaken by Spanish civil engineers Copasa and Imathia Construcción. Among the other Spanish companies involved are transport consultant Consultrans, contractor and materials producer Ineco, and concession operator OHL. The Saudi members include the developer AL-Shoula and construction group Al-Rosan, had been chosen for the contract.  

Some 350 trains are to be provided by Spanish train maker Talgo, which supplies the Spanish high-speed network, which is presently the largest in Europe. Renfe and Adif will operate the trains and manage the line for 12 years. 

The line will have only five stations, four of which are being built by a joint venture between the Saudi Bin Laden Consortium and Saudi Oger. Work on the station at King Abdullah Economic City is complete, and work on Jeddah station is in its final stages. Muqbel ordered that this be delivered immediately. 

After his tour, Muqbel held talks with the Spanish consortium and discussed "delays in some of the sites and delays in the supply of necessary equipment and trains", stressing that every effort must be made to complete the work on time. 

Saudi Arabia is expanding its railways throughout its territory, and is also constructing a $22.5 billion metro system under construction in the capital Riyadh. A consortium led Spain’s FCC group is part of that project.

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