x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Canada's Bombardier Transportation win Jeddah tram contract

The Saudi Binladin Group and Bombardier Transportation are teaming up to build a tram system in Jeddah.

Bombardier Transportation, which will operate the Saudi tram system for four years after its scheduled completion in 2014, will provide 10 of its Innovia trams to Riyadh. Courtesy Bombardier Transportation
Bombardier Transportation, which will operate the Saudi tram system for four years after its scheduled completion in 2014, will provide 10 of its Innovia trams to Riyadh. Courtesy Bombardier Transportation
Canada's Bombardier Transportation has won a US$96 million (Dh352.6m) tram contract in Jeddah as Saudi Arabia continues heavy investment in mass-transit projects.

The 1.5km line will be built within King Abdulaziz International Airport in partnership with the Saudi Binladin Group, one of the largest contractors in the kingdom. Bombardier will provide 10 of its Innovia driverless tram cars as well as providing project management, systems engineering and integration, testing and commissioning. Completion of the system is scheduled for the start of 2014, upon which Bombardier will operate and maintain the system for four years, with an option to extend for an additional two years to 2020.

The system will connect airport terminals to handle the rising numbers of passengers, Bombardier said.

"Our second contract in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia confirms our commitment to build local skill to help realise Saudi Arabia's ambitious urban transport aspirations," said Serge Van Themsche, a regional vice president at Bombardier. The company has been hired to build a 3.6km monorail system for the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh. Tram, metro and heavy rail lines have proliferated in Saudi Arabia as the country deals with rising road congestion and works to meet its industrial needs.

The $1.8 billion Mecca Metro was launched in February 2009 with an aim to eliminate between 30,000 and 50,000 cars and buses from the roads near the holy sites during the Haj religious pilgrimage. The contractor was China Railway Engineering Corporation.

The western part of the kingdom is also home to the $3.2bn high-speed Haramain Rail, a 444km high-speed inter-city rail transport that will link the cities of Medina and Mecca via King Abdullah Economic City, Rabigh, Jeddah and King Abdulaziz airport.

In addition, two Italian rail companies, AnsaldoBreda and Ansaldo STS, this year completed an 11.5km metro at the Princess Noura Bint Abdulrahman University for Women in Riyadh, in a ?218m (Dh1.13bn) project.

The rail market in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), including rolling stock, rail services and operations, is estimated to be worth $8.8bn by 2015, according to a Boston Consulting Group study undertaken by the European rail industry. The Mena rail market has grown by 4.1 per cent since 2007, the study found.

Qatar is pushing ahead with city-wide metro lines in advance of its hosting the 2022 Fifa World Cup, and will also install an airport passenger transport system within its New Doha International Airport. International companies are also submitting offers to build other light rail projects in Qatar and a link for that country's planned Lusail City residential project.

The GCC states are planning to build a regional rail network linking the six countries by the end of this decade, while in the UAE a nationwide freight network is being planned.

In addition, Abu Dhabi is evaluating tram and metro projects, while Dubai Metro will open its 23km Green Line later this year.

"Transportation infrastructure is undergoing a substantial change [in the region]," said Bombardier. "From an automobile and road-transport orientation, the focus is now shifting to public transportation and more sustainable modes of mass transportation available."

However, the huge costs of financing rail projects has raised challenges.

The Saudi Landbridge, a proposed 950km passenger and freight line between Jeddah and Riyadh, has struggled to get off the ground under its planned financing structure as a public-private partnership.

igale@thenational.ae