Riyadh by Rail


Riyadh Public Transport Project (RPTP), one of the Kingdom's most ambitious projects, picks up steam this year as three consortia race against the clock to complete Saudi Arabia's first metro by the end of 2018.

Much to the chagrin of Riyadh commuters, extensive work for the Kingdom’s inaugural metro system is moving along at full steam in a race against the clock. The $22.5 billion Riyadh Public Transport Project (RPTP), which has resulted in an ever-changing but necessary array of road closures and detours is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, a deadline as ambitious as its scope. In total, the metro project measures 178km in length, broken up into six separate lines with an additional three-line Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) network, which will connect major places of Riyadh. All stations of the metro will be integrated with the bus network. Roughly 40% of the metro routes will be subterranean, and the three main consortia constructing the metro are contracted by the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA).

Even so, the relatively short four-year deadline cannot come soon enough. The current population of Riyadh, already at 5.7 million, is expected to grow past 8 million over the next 15 years, if not more. Compounding the issue is the city’s current underwhelming public transport system; it is estimated that 90% of the population gets around mainly via car. The metro will also greatly expand the mobility of the city’s female population, who currently can only travel in cars as a passenger.

Along with other megaprojects currently underway in the capital—such as the King Abdullah Financial District, major expansion projects to King Khaled International Airport, as well as other significant housing and infrastructure projects, the Riyadh metro has attracted more than its fair share of international investors and firms. Even more importantly, the state-of-the-art project will act as a vehicle for technology and knowledge transfer.

Back in August 2013, contracts for the metro’s lines were awarded to three consortia: BACS, ANM, and FAST. BACS, which includes Bechtel, Almanbani General Contractors, Consolidated Contractors Company and Siemens, is responsible for lines 1 and 2, for a total value of just under $10 billion

Another $5.2 billion in total contracts for Line 3 was awarded to ANM, which includes Ansaldo STS, Salini-Impregilo, Larsen & Toubro, Nesma, and Bombardier. Larsen & Toubro and Nesma are contracted to supply civil works services, while Bombardier is responsible for procuring vehicles. Ansaldo STS will do technology services for the line

The FCC Construction-led FAST consortium was awarded $7.9 billion in contracts for lines 4, 5, and 6. Other companies in the consortium include Samsung, Alstom, Strukton, Freyssinet Saudi Arabia, Typsa, and Setec. The $7.9 billion will be financed through the Public Investment Fund of the government of Saudi Arabia.

Alstom will supply 69 metro trains for the Riyadh Metro project, including new technology from the company in the form of its HESOP and Appitrack system.

Other foreign companies to win contracts for the complex project include Indra, which secured a $300 million contract at the beginning of 2015 for the metro’s ticketing and access control systems. The contract—which was won over nine other competing bids—also calls for a 54-month implementation phase and an additional 10 years of maintenance and support.

In March, Malaysia’s Eversendai was awarded the steel work contract for lines 1 and 2. Eversendai continues its foray into the GCC, after having won a contract for Qatar’s Al Wahda Arches over strong competition from South Korean and European firms.