Saudi Railways Company CEO Bashar Al Malik has announced this week that the country is planning to issue tenders for its long-delayed Land Bridge railway project linking the Red Sea port of Jeddah with the Arabian Gulf and the capital Riyadh by early 2018. He said the firm had seen an encouraging response to an invitation for expressions of interest for the 1,600km line from the private sector. As a result, it will issue contract tenders by the end of 2017 or early 2018.

Contracts for the project were first awarded in 2008 with the aim of accelerating freight transport across the kingdom from the current five days to two days. The project originally included 958km of track between Jeddah and Riyadh, the upgrade of a 450km line between Riyadh and Dammam and a second 150km line between Dammam and Jubail.