A consortium led by US engineer Bechtel has begun tunnelling work on Line 1 of the Riyadh Metro in Saudi Arabia – the kingdom’s first underground rail system and one of the largest in the world.
The consortium, which includes Saudi contractor Almabani, Greek-based Consolidated Contractors Company and Siemens, is carrying out a $10bn contract to design and build the metro, as well as supplying rolling stock, signalling, electrification and the integration of Lines 1 and 2.
The metro will revolutionise how people move around the city. Sending our team’s first tunnel boring machine on its underground voyage is a significant step for all– Amjad Bangash, Bechtel director
The work includes 39 stations, two of which are key interchange stations: Olaya, situated in the centre of Riyadh at the intersection of Lines 1 and 2, and King Abdullah Financial District Station on Line 1.
Amjad Bangash, Bechtel’s director on the project, said: "The metro will revolutionise how people move around the city. Sending our team’s first tunnel boring machine on its underground voyage is a significant step for all."
Bangash added that tunnelling beneath the streets of Riyadh would prove challenging.
The first machine, Mneefah – named after the horse of Abdulaziz Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia – will eventually reach a boring rate of 100m a week and is expected to complete its journey by mid-2016. In total, seven boring machines will be deployed to excavate more than 35km of tunnels.
Work under way at the metro site (Source: PR Newswire)
Meanwhile, at the kingdom’s second metro project, at the holy city of Makkah, Spanish contractor Isolux Corsan has been named preferred bidder for a $2.5bn contract to build two lines.
The company said its consortium, which includes the Turkish contractor Kolin and Saudi Arabia’s Haif Company, is expected to sign a contract for the project in the coming months.
The consortium will build Lines B and C of the project. Line B will comprise 11.9kms of tunnels and three stations. Line C will be 13km long and contain six stations, two of which will be large interchanges.
The system will include four new lines and will intersect with the existing Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah line, which was built in 2010 to carry pilgrims between the sites of Mina, Muzdallah and Arafat, close to the Grand Mosque.
Photograph: Work under way at the metro site (Source: PR Newswire)