JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) – The traffic-congested Red Sea city of Jeddah will build an elevated light rail system worth 21 billion riyals (5.6 billion dollars), the region’s governor told a Saudi magazine.
The rail would be part of a new mass transit project including 816 buses and a tramway for tourists, Prince Khalid al-Faisal, governor of the Mecca region which includes Jeddah, said in the latest edition of Mecca magazine.
Prince Khalid did not give any timeframe for the project, which would serve a rapidly growing population of about four million.
The main transportation hub for nearby Mecca, Jeddah’s population swells by hundreds of thousands during the peak periods of the hajj and umrah pilgrimages to the Islamic holy city.
Flash floods during the hajj in November 2009 left more than 120 people dead and exposed the serious infrastructure shortcomings of the city, sparking a boom in road, bridge and water drainage projects.
The new light rail will complement a high-speed railway currently being planned to link Mecca, Jeddah and Medina.
The government is expected to choose between French and Spanish consortiums who bid for that project before the end of the year.