Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat—Significant progress has been made on the much-delayed Haramain high-speed rail project and the stations along the line are 75 percent complete, according to Saudi Transport Minister Dr. Jabara Al-Suraisari.
The minister’s comments came in a statement following a two-day tour of work on the new line, which will connect Mecca and Medina via Jeddah. Suraisari, who is also the chairman of the board of the Saudi Railways Organization, said that the progress made was “reassuring.”
Members of the Shura Council had called on Monday for an investigation into delays and excess expenditure on the project, which was originally scheduled for completion in 2012 but is now expected to wrap up in late 2015.
“The Nazaha [Anti-Corruption Commission] should investigate the budget allocated to the Haramain Railway project and the reasons for the increase in the funds needed for the completion of the project,” the Shura Council said during Monday’s discussion of the Railway Organization’s annual report. Members also criticized the delay, saying the project had taken twice as long as originally planned and that more than twice the initial budget had been spent.
But Suraisari said there had been constant follow-up on the project at the highest levels, and that supervisory committees carry out weekly and monthly site inspections.
The two final segments of track, a 165-kilometer stretch on the approach to Medina, will be handed over to Phase II contractors shortly, so that the electrification of the entire 450 kilometers of track can be completed, he said.
The president of the Saudi Railways Organization, Mohamed Al-Suwaikat, added that the first batch of rolling stock—equipped to travel at speeds of at least 300 kph—would be delivered soon.