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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Riyadh metro mega-project to be fully operational by 2021

The soft opening of the metro will be in 2019

The metro public transit, with a parallel bus network, will have six lines traveling 176 kilometres with 85 metro stations.. Faisal Al Nasser / Reuters
The metro public transit, with a parallel bus network, will have six lines traveling 176 kilometres with 85 metro stations.. Faisal Al Nasser / Reuters

The Riyadh Metro project – a US$22.5 billion undertaking adding six new lines to Saudi Arabia’s capital – is due to become fully operational in 2021, a senior minister said on Thursday.

The soft opening of the metro, which is currently under construction, will be in 2019, Saudi economy minister Mohammad Al Tuwaijri said.

He added that the soft opening of Jeddah’s new international airport is set for May this year.

Mr Al Tuwaijri made the comments at the Saudi-UK CEO Forum in London’s Mansion House. The event, which was organised to coincide with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s three-day trip to the UK, gathered leading Saudi businesses and ministers together with British companies hungry to seal deals and participate in the Vision 2030 strategy.

Attendees at the forum included Mr Al Tuwaijri, Dr Majid Al Kassabi, minister of commerce and investment, Yasir Al Rumayyan, chief executive of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, and leading business executives such as Saudi Aramco’s chief executive, Amin Nasser.

The metro public transit, with a parallel bus network, will have six lines traveling 176 kilometres with 85 metro stations.

The bus network will have 956 vehicles covering 1,150 kilometres of route length.

It is hoped that the project will help to alleviate the urban transit problems in this rapidly increasing city. Fuelled by strong economic growth, Riyadh’s population is set to rise from current 6.5 million people to 8.3 million people by 2030, creating new demands for transport links.

More than 1,500km of new roads are planned by 2030, but that in itself will not be sufficient to meet the challenge of a rising population. The kingdom therefore decided to build a new, world-class public transport network, at a cost of nearly $23 billion.

Once completed, the network will be the world’s largest public transport project. The project, billed as a strategic investment in the future of Riyadh, is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia and is part of the country’s ambitious programme to reform its economy and society, known as Vision 2030.

It is expected that the project will increase the share of journeys on public transport in the city from 2 per cent to around 20 per cent.

Construction on the metro network began in 2014 after contracts were awarded by the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) to consortiums headed by US construction giant Bechtnel Corp, Spain’s Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas and Italy’s Ansaldo STS.

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Riyadh metro

Riyadh metro to auction station naming rights

Tunnelling complete on Riyadh Metro Green Line

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The metro trains will be served by electric, driverless trains, and will be fitted with high capacity air conditioning and special filters to keep the sand out.

Passenger safety will be a priority, with in-built CCTV systems, derailment detectors and fire safety.

Last October, ADA launched a programme allowing national and foreign companies to bid for the right to name Riyadh’s metro stations, with the money raised being reinvested in the public transport system, using an approach previously adopted by Dubai's metro system.

The metro project includes the construction of 85 stations. However, only 15 stations are up for naming by “well-known national and international companies.” to bid. Of that number, only 10 will be awarded through ADA, the authority said.

Dubai's metro system kick started this type of programme nearly a decade ago, with the Roads and Transport Authority by early 2014 grabbing Dh2 billion by selling the naming rights of 13 stations.

Leading architects have been commissioned to design the major stations, including British-Iraqi Zaha Hadid who will develop the design for King Abdullah Financial District.

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