29 July 2011
The Saudi Arabia high-speed tender has entered the final stage prior to the award, which indicates that it may be given to the Spanish consortium headed by Renfe, which won this tender announced by the Government of Saudi Arabia in 2006 for the construction and operation of a high-speed line between Medina and Mecca, the two holy cities of Islam.
The contract is worth €6,500 million, which includes operation of the line for a twelve year period. The distance between the two towns is 450 kilometres and when the line is in operation it is estimated that it could serve Islam's two holy pilgrimages, called Hajj and Umrah.
Those in charge of the Spanish consortium have been called to negotiate some of the technical details in the first half of August. The Spanish offer is competing with another finalist, the French consortium Al Rajhi Alliance, involving French Railways (SNCF) and Alstom, as well as a Saudi construction company.
Another three groups did initially take part, one European group, the Saudi Bin Ladin Group (which Siemens and DB formed part of) and two Asian ones, the Badr Consortium (from Japan and Korea), and the CSR Consortium (led by the State Railways of China).
The Spanish consortium
Public companies control 49,87 percent of the capital in the Spanish consortium. Of these, the largest share is held by Renfe Operadora, with 26,9 percent of the shares; ADIF, with 21,5 percent, and Ineco, with 1,47 percent. 50,13% of the capital corresponds to private companies, such as Talgo (17,5 percent); the construction company OHL (6,21 percent); Dimetronic (5,18 percent); Indra (4,63 percent ); Copasa (6,76 percent); Cobra (5,30 percent); Inabensa (1,40 percent); Imathia (2,21 percent); and Consultrans (0,94 percent). A local constructor is also part of the conglomerate.
All the Spanish companies will have 88 percent of the company, with the Saudi partners having the remaining 12 percent (Al Shoula 7 percent, and Al-Rosan 5 percent). The participation of Spanish companies in the Saudi company will be through a Spanish special purpose entity, thereby ensuring a single view of the group and facilitating dialogue with the Saudi partner and SRO.
Capable of 300 km/h
The high-speed line between Medina and Mecca is 450 km long and will be capable of 300 km/h. It will include the ERTMS Level 2 traffic control system. It will have five stations: Mecca, Jeddah, Jeddah Airport, KAEC (abbreviation in English that corresponds to the King Abdullah Economic City) and Medina.
Saudi officials are considering adding two more stations: one in a university and another in the so-called Sports City, located in the middle of the desert. The station design is similar, but they all have a distinguishing feature. All of them are located outside the area that is prohibited for non-Muslims.
A high speed line in the middle of the desert has to face temperatures ranging between 0 and 50 degrees, as well as the problems that sand poses for facilities and rolling stock. Particularly between kilometres 17.5 and 39, and between kilometres 147 and 227, which may present special problems in this regard. The most difficult points, some thirty kilometres, will be covered with a slab track and walls will be built to prevent sand from invading the track.
As for the estimated demand, 166,000 passengers a day have been calculated, with peaks of 180,000 a year. Passengers would represent a figure of 74 million in the first year of operation, and more than one billion passengers during the 12-year contract, according to estimates by the Saudi authorities.
The initial rolling stock order consists of 33 electric trains to be manufactured by Talgo entirely in Spain, and with an option to purchase 23 more. Trains are based on the Renfe 112 series trains equipped with Bombardier traction, as SRO demanded proven technology.
Each train will consist of twelve cars and two power units, and will have a capacity of between four and five hundred seats. Apart from these compositions set forth in the tender, a VIP train will be supplied for the King and his entourage.
This time without the Music
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.