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Sat 11 Jun 2011 10:29 AM

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Swiss power firm wins $85m Saudi rail project contract

ABB to supply key power components for new high-speed rail link being built in Saudi Arabia

Swiss power firm wins $85m Saudi rail project contract
(Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

ABB, the Swiss-based power and technology group, has won an order worth $85m to supply key components to power a new high-speed rail link in Saudi Arabia.

The contract awarded by AlFanar Construction Co will see ABB supply 380kV indoor gas-insulated switchgear that are a key component of new substations that will power the 444km Haramain rail line currently under construction in the kingdom.

ABB will design, supply, install and commission the GIS by the middle of 2013, the company said in a statement.

Owned and operated by the Saudi Electricity Company, the substations are needed to supply electricity to high-speed electric trains that are expected to help transport about three million passengers annually.

The railway will link the pilgrimage cities of Makkah and Madinah via the King Abdullah Economic City, Rabigh, Jeddah and King Abdulaziz International Airport.

The new rail line is expected to reduce traffic congestion on the roads, and will cut travel time between the two holy cities from six hours to two.

More than 33,000km of railway lines are planned to be built in the Middle East and North Africa with the region's mainline rail network set to almost double in size.

According to the Mena Rail Report 2011, metro, tram and monorail track lengths will also increase tenfold.

In all, there are plans to build more than 30,000km of mainline routes and more than 3,000km of metro, tram and monorail lines.

A review of rail projects across the Middle East, North Africa and the Levant showed there was more than $250bn of planned investment set out by governments and rail operators.

Increasing concern for the environment, rapid urbanization and the need to move more people and freight faster, make rail a key infrastructure sector.

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