Momentum builds for metro projects

A number of cities in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia are pushing forward with plans to develop metro networks.

The number of pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia for hajj or umrah pilgrimages is set to boom in the coming years and will place unique pressures on the country’s transport infrastructure.

More than 3 million pilgrims visited the kingdom last year during hajj. With so many religious tourists visiting the country, there is inevitably congestion on the roads linking up Islam’s holy sites in Medina and Mecca, as well as within the cities themselves.

Against this backdrop, efforts to build metro systems are ramping up. The Turkish/Lebanese joint venture between Khatib & Alami and Istanbul Ulasim has just won the consultancy services contract for a new metro system within Medina. The metro will connect into the Haramain high-speed railway line, which is currently under construction and links the city to Mecca.

Jeddah, one of the main entry points for pilgrims, is also pushing forward its metro plans. In March, Jeddah Metro Company, a joint-venture between Jeddah Municipality and Jeddah Urban Development Company, was formed and is reviewing how to develop the project.

Mecca itself has had a metro system in place for the past two years. However, Mecca Municipality is now looking for consultants to project manage a transport scheme, which includes a mass rail transit project.

Riyadh’s planned metro is at the most advanced stage, with bids for construction contracts being evaluated.

With contracts due to be awarded or tendered on several of these metro projects in the coming months, momentum is clearly gathering behind Saudi’s ambitious transport plans.