RIYADH, (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has awarded a 6.79 billion riyals ($1.8 billion) railway infrastructure contract to a consortium including a unit of China Railway Construction Corp, contractors said on Wednesday.
The contract covers ground and civil engineering works for a 450-km-long (280 mile) high-speed rail section linking the Red Sea port city of Jeddah to Medina.
China Railway Construction subsidiary China Railway 18th Bureau Group and two Saudi firms, including Al Arrab Contracting Co, are part of the winning consortium.
The Chinese firm’s share in the value of the project is 21.25 percent, said Ibrahim al-Rajhi, board member of al-Rajhi Investment Group, which is leading the railway’s implementation.
Al Arrab Contracting Co will get 63.75 percent of the contract’s value, and another local firm will get the remaining 15 percent, Rajhi told Reuters.
The world’s top oil exporter will finance the project through the state-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF), Mansour al-Maiman, secretary-general of the fund, told reporters at a contract-signing ceremony.
The rail section will link Jeddah’s airport to the cities of Mecca and Medina, home to Islam’s holiest shrines.
Jeddah’s airport is the main arrival point for millions of Muslims who travel to Saudi Arabia each year to perform the Hajj pilgrimage.
The rail section, which will be operated by the state-controlled Saudi Railways Org, is due for completion by the end of 2012, Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf told reporters.