By Andy Sambidge
Bombardier Transportation signs contracts for high-speed rail network in Gulf kingdom
German-based rail giant Bombardier Transportation has signed contracts worth $367m to develop and supply components for high speed trains in Saudi Arabia.
The company said it has inked contracts with Talgo to work on 36 express trains that will be used on the planned rail line connecting the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
Talgo is a member of the Al Shoula consortium, led by the Spanish railway operator RENFE and the railway infrastructure company ADIF, which was recently contracted by the Saudi Railways Organisation to build and operate a 450km high-speed rail line.
Bombardier’s supply scope for Talgo includes propulsion and control packages and high speed bogies for the power heads of the 330km/h trains alongside 12-year maintenance services.
The majority of Bombardier’s manufacturing for the project will take place at its plant in Trapaga, Spain, it said in a statement.
The technology is similar to that of the 46 AVE 102 and AVE 112 trains developed and manufactured for RENFE between 2001 and 2010, it added.
Bombardier said it has participated in the development of many of the world's leading high speed rail systems, including four different generations of TGV in France, the ICE trains used in Germany and the Netherlands, and China's Xinshisu.
Last month, it was reported that Saudi Arabia's first high-speed passenger rail line is slated for completion by January 2014.
Construction is underway on the transport link which will serve Haj and Umrah pilgrims, Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry said.
The 480km railway line, which will also pass through the port city of Jeddah, will cut travel time between the two holy cities to just two hours.
Initially the line is expected to carry more than 3 million passengers annually.
Lets hope the forecast on passenger numbers is more accurate than on any other High Speed Rail Projects currently in operation. One only has to look at the scaling back of services and cancellation of projects in Europe to see this is a highly fraught area and seems to best serve the constructors as opposed to the passengers.