(MENAFN - Arab News) A state-of-the art railway station is to be set up in the capital with the capacity to handle 800,000 commuters a year, the Saudi Railway Company (SAR) announced on Sunday.
"The proposed station with the latest facilities will be built on an area of 50,000 square meters near King Khaled International Airport," SAR Executive Chairman Rumaih bin Muhammad Al-Rumaih told reporters at a press conference held at Al-Faisaliah Hotel in the capital.
He added that the railway station would be ready in 2013. He did not disclose the value of the contract SAR is offering for tender at the end of the year to construct the station.
The new railway station would be the terminus for a proposed 1,000-kilometer route that will cover cities including Riyadh, Qassim, Hail, Al-Jouf and Al-Haditha at the Jordanian border.
High-speed trains running at up to 200kmph will be deployed as part of the service, Al-Rumaih said.
The new rail lines not only link Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries with the Kingdom but it can also connect Saudi Arabia with Europe via Jordan, Syria and Turkey, he added.
Al-Rumaih pointed out that the entire rail project, which includes separate services for transporting minerals and passengers, will cost SR16 billion and will provide more than 3,000 jobs.
He said the project would improve travel between Saudi cities and boost the development of regions that railway passes through.
Al-Rumaih added that the North-South Railway, which starts at Hudaitha in Al-Jouf province and passes through Hail, Qassim and Riyadh provinces, would start transporting minerals this year. Over half of the track for the project has been laid.
He said freight trains would be able to transport 15,000 tons of minerals in a single trip, which would otherwise normally need 600 cargo trucks.
Al-Rumaih also said that each train would have 100 carriages, adding that they would reach the Kingdom by September.
The North-South Railway will ferry minerals from mines in the north and central zones at Al-Jalami and As-Zabirah to processing plants in Ras Az-Zawr in the east, near Jubail.
Sponsored by the Public Investment Fund, the railway is key to the implementation of planned phosphate and bauxite mining projects in the north of the country that will link with processing plants and smelters on the Gulf coast.
It is of strategic importance to the national economy as the processing of phosphates, which exists in commercial quantities, will place the Kingdom second internationally in terms of exports.
The railway will also improve the transportation of oil, agricultural and industrial products, as well as other goods and passengers.
The Ministry of Finance awarded a 765 million (SR2.9 billion) contract to a consortium comprising Mitsui & Co. Ltd., Barclay Mowlem Ltd. and Al-Rashid to provide civil and track work services for a 508-mile stretch of the North-South railway.
India's state-owned Rites Company was awarded a contract for the operation of the mineral railway linking the northern Al-Jalami region with Ras Az-Zawr.
The final value of the contract will depend on the volume of minerals and goods transported on the railway during the contracted period. Estimates indicate it could reach SR278 million.
By MD Rasooldeen