Saudi Arabia’s government will study whether to build a high-speed railway line between Riyadh and Dammam, capital of the country’s oil-rich Eastern Province, transport consultancy Consultrans said on Friday.
The Spain-based company said it had been awarded a $1.8 million, 10-month contract to conduct the study. The line would be 480 km (300 miles) long.
The government is seeking to cut the rail travel time between Riyadh and Dammam, a major industrial centre, to under three hours from 4-1/2 hours, by raising the average speed of trains to as much as 300 km/hour from 180 km/hour currently.
Saudi Arabia is spending tens of billions of dollars on upgrading its transport infrastructure as part of efforts to diversify the economy beyond oil. In May, the government awarded a $2.1 billion contract to operate a new bus system in Riyadh.