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Sat 14 Oct 2006 12:00 AM

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Bin Ladin wins rail ground work

Saudi contractor is one of four firms to score an earthwork contract on the largest rail project in the region.

Four Saudi Arabian companies have picked up contracts for ground preparation work on the biggest rail project ever let in the Middle East.

The deals are thought to be worth around US $480 million (SR1.8 billion) in total.

The firms will share the earthworks for the massive North- South Railway project, which will be used primarily to transport bauxite and phosphate ores from the north and northeast of Saudi Arabia to processing facilities on the Gulf coast.

The ground preparation work has been split between Khoudary, Saudi Oger, a joint venture of Al-Omair and Fahad and a joint venture of Saudi Bin Ladin Group and Suwailem.

“This is only for the earthworks,” confirmed Munzer Kahwaji, corporate business manager, Saudi Oger.

The construction of the roadbed will involve 83 million m3 of earthworks.

Tenders will soon be invited from national and international contractors to build the railway line as part of the second phase of the $2 billion project.

And contractors are expected to be selected by the end of the year.

Later contract packages will cover 254 concrete bridges; culverts (1059 sites); production of concrete sleepers (4.6 million units); procurement of rails (4,800km); flash-butt welding of rails (194,000 welds); production of crushed rock ballast (6.1 million m3); and installation of the 2,400km track structure.

The railway will link Al-Jalamid and Al-Zubairah in the north to the industrial city of Jubail in the east via 2,500km of track, and is expected to boost to the kingdom’s mineral industry.

The project is being carried out by the Saudi Rail Organisation, and is expected to be completed by 2011.

Unlike the East-West Landbridge project between Jeddah and Riyadh, which ibeing proposed as a build-operate-transfer scheme, the North-South project is being let directly by the government.

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