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Tue 21 Apr 2015 01:28 PM

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Saudi high-speed rail contractor axed over delays

Transport Minister demands the Saudi-Spanish consortium responsible for rail project to fast-track construction

Saudi high-speed rail contractor axed over delays
(AFP/Getty Images)

A contractor involved in Saudi Arabia’s first high-speed rail network has been axed after failing to meet its construction deadline, Saudi Gazette reported.

Transport Minister Abdullah Al Muqbil on Sunday described work so far on the multi-billion dollar project as “substandard” and “slow” and ordered the Saudi-Spanish consortium responsible to replace one of the contractors.

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.

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, Saudi Gazette reported.

The group announced on Monday it had replaced the contractor working on a building to house the central workshop.

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.

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