First Saudi high-speed railway ‘substandard’

Saudi Arabia has demanded the Saudi-Spanish consortium contracted to build the kingdom’s first high-speed railway to fast-track construction, describing work so far as “substandard” and “slow”.

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A unit of the new highspeed train built by Spanish manufacturer Talgo is loaded onto a freighter in Barcelona’s port on December 12, 2014 bound for Jeddah City in Saudi Arabia

The 453km Haramain Railway, which links the two Muslim holy cities of Madinah and Makkah via Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City, is more than two years behind schedule, according to reports when it was announced. It had been due to open in 2012 but the government has now said the section between Madinah and Rabigh would be the first phase to begin operating, by the end of 2015.

Transport Minister Abdullah Al Muqbel has demanded the consortium responsible for the project, Al Shoula Group, to immediately submit a new plan on how it will attempt to make up the delays. He also requested the group hire another contractor to implement the project. The railway is part of the kingdom’s multi-billion dollar infrastructure upgrade, particularly around the Muslim holy cities, where several million pilgrims visit each year.

Source: Qatar News Agency