SAUDI Railways Organisation President Khalid H Alyahya announced at the Mena Rail conference staged by IIR in Dubai on December 9 that financial advisers had been appointed for Saudi Arabia’s planned rail expansion projects.

UBS of Switzerland and the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia have been chosen to handle the financial aspects of two long-planned Saudi Railways expansion projects. One is the 950 km line from Riyadh west to the Red Sea port of Jeddah with branches to Medina and Yanbu al Bahr that with the existing SRO line from Riyadh Dammam would form what is now known as the ’Saudi Landbridge’. The other is a 1293 km line to be built to carry bauxite and phosphates from mines at Al Jalamid to Riyadh. Alyahya said that the banks would ’bring strong expertise and local knowledge of Saudi Arabia’ to the projects.

The financial advisers would help the government to structure the projects to attract private investment and ultimately select the investors, said Alyahya. He noted that likely investors would be construction companies, equipment suppliers, shipping lines, railway operating companies and financial organisations. The President added that further advisers would be appointed early in 2004, and that prequalification documents would be issued in the first half of the year with a view to inviting qualified consortia to tender in late 2004.