In mid-February of this year, news came through that the ambitious Riyadh Metro system is on track to open for business in early 2019.
An article in the Saudi Gazette announced that the Riyadh metro project, one of the world’s largest urban transport ventures aimed to carry 3 million passenger, alleviating the Kingdom’s road system, according to officials from the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh , during a press conference at Alstom’s manufacturing facilities in Krakow, Poland.
“We are on schedule. We reached 48 per cent completion and we believe the metro will start operating by early 2019 with no delay,” said Khalid Alhazani, director of the architectural project program and public affairs at Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA).
The Riyadh metro is the world’s largest turnkey metro project and cost $23 billion to develop six lines including 85 stations expanding over the city with 176 kilometres. The turnkey system approach entails complete system capability, including signalling, electrification, trackwork and maintenance services.
The first 2-car trainset was shipped in January of this year and the second one will arrive in Riyadh this month.
Riyadh MetroAlstom is one of three metro suppliers developing the project and has been providing its integrated metro system for three of the six lines since 2014.
This momentous project includes a 24-line bus network under the King Abdulaziz Project for Riyadh Public Transport and has the aim of meeting the strains of a growing population which is estimated to increase from 6 million to over 8 million residents by 2030.
Currently, about 9 million trips are made daily in the city of Riyadh causing congestion and air pollution. The new public transportation system seeks to reduce car trips by 803 million each year.
It will save more than 620 litres of fuel and more than $185 million worth of air pollution cost annually.
Alhazani said, “We are visiting retail outlets, offices and homes to introduce the project and tell them about the detours during construction. People appreciate it because they understand that this project will improve their lives for the future.”
The project will encompass a series of walkways designed along the metro lines with trees and street furniture. Additionally, 25 car parks are set to be constructed for people to leave their vehicles once they reach the nearest station.
The 2-car trainsets feature first class, families and singles sections to encourage all segments of society to ride the metro.
The metro trains are 100 per cent motorized and driverless and are designed to run at a top speed of 90 kilometres per hour.
Alstom is supplying 69 metropolis aluminium automated 2-car trainsets, its Urbalis driverless solution, telecommunications, and infrastructure for the lines 4, 5 and 6.
Riyadh is one of the cities that does not have an existing public transport system and the case for undertaking such a major infrastructure project is compelling.
It is being built by world’s leading construction companies including Bechtel, FCC, Strukton, Salini Impregilo, Larsen and Toubro and Samsung.
In 2013, the Bechtel-led consortium won a contract worth some $10 billion to design and build two rail lines of the Riyadh Metro network in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The lines, along with four others, will form the backbone of Riyadh’s new public transportation network.
The BACS consortium, is responsible for the design, construction, train cars, and signalling―as well as electrification and integration of the new lines to the rest of the system.
Last April, the Indian engineering and construction firm Larsen & Toubro (L&T) said it had achieved a major safety milestone during the construction of key facilities at its Riyadh Metro project, clocking over 15 million safe man hours without lost time injuries (LTI).
As per the deal awarded by BACS consortium (Bechtel – Almabani – CCC – Siemens), L&T is building ballastless tracks for Riyadh Metro Lines -1 & 2 on a design and build basis.
The project involves the construction of 62.86 kilometres of double ballastless tracks in tunnels, viaducts, at grade sections and three depots.
Another landmark was reached at the beginning of February this year, when it was announced that the project has exceeded three million safe work hours, according to US-headquartered consultancy, Parsons.
The mass transit project, commissioned by Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA), passed the three million milestone less than a year after it achieved one million safe work hours without lost-time incident (LTI).
As the engineer of record for two Riyadh Metro contracts, Parsons-led consortium, Riyadh Metro Transit Consultants (RMTC), is performing programme and construction management services on the project.
Commenting on the team’s health, safety, and environment (HSE) management activities at Riyadh Metro, Gary Adams, group president of Parsons, said: “I am very proud of the RMTC project team for achieving such a significant safety milestone.
“Their shared commitment and combined efforts have seen the application of stringent HSE policies and standards enforced on site for all key stakeholders,” he added.
In early February of 2017, Italian contractor Salini Impregilo announced that it has completed tunnel excavation work on Line 3 of the Riyadh Metro project.
Line 3, also known as the Orange line, is 41.5 kilometres long and includes an 11 kilometre underground section. It will have 22 stations.
Salini Impreglio leads the ArRiyadh New Mobility (ANM) consortium, which was awarded a €3.72 billion contract in October 2013.
Just a couple of days later Alstom presented the first Alstom Metropolis driverless metro trains for Riyadh Metro to representatives of Arriyadh Development Authority in Poland.
Running an efficient metro system requires a masterclass in operations. Similarly the development of the metro infrastructure in Riyadh is under such expertise. It is reassuring to know things are running smoothly and on time.