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Tunneling work begins on mega Riyadh Metro project

Tunneling work begins on mega Riyadh Metro project

The 176 km six-line driverless network is scheduled for completion in 2019

Tunneling work on the first line of the Riyadh Metro has begun, signaling a start to the mega project, the consortium developing it has announced.

The $10bn contract for the design, construction, train cars, signaling, electrification and integration of Lines 1 and 2 of the project was awarded to a consortium led by engineering firm Bechtel.

The group also includes Saudi-based Almabani General Contractors, Consolidated Contractors Company, and Germany’s Siemens AG.

In a statement, the consortium confirmed that the first tunnel boring machine to work on Line 1 is now underground.

The machine, named Mneefah after the horse of Saudi Arabia’s founder King, will ramp up to its planned average tunneling rate of about 325 feet per week and is expected to complete its journey by mid-2016.

In total, seven tunnel boring machines will be deployed to dig and construct more than 35km of tunnels beneath the city.

Bechtel’s director on the project Amjad Bangash said the tunneling work beneath the streets of the Saudi capital will prove challenging.

“Getting early agreement on the alignment in the heart of the city was crucial to advance the detailed design work needed to start tunneling.”

Overall, the consortium’s work includes 39 stations, two of which are key interchange stations: Olaya Station, situated in the center of Riyadh at the intersection of Lines 1 and 2, and King Abdullah Financial District Station, located slightly to the north on Line 1.

“The metro, set to be the cornerstone of Riyadh’s new public transport network, will revolutionise how people move around the city,” said Bangash.

The Riyadh Metro is set to be the country’s first underground rail system and one of the largest in the world.

It is part of a 25-year strategic plan prepared by the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh to cater to Riyadh’s fast growing population, expected to increase 50 per cent by 2035 to 7.5m.

The Saudi Arabian government awarded contracts worth $22.5bn to three foreign-led consortia for the design and construction of the metro in July 2013.

In September last year, Saudi Electricity Co also signed contracts worth $682.5m to supply power to the metro.

The network is due to be completed in 2019. When ready, the 176km six-line driverless network is anticipated to serve 400,000 passengers through 85 stations.

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