DOMESTIC AND international companies have been invited to submit tenders for construction of Saudi Arabia's planned Western Railway linking Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah.

The call for tenders by Saudi Railways Organisation marks a further step in the expansion of the kingdom's rail network. The 444 km passenger line is expected to play a key role in moving millions of pilgrims who visit the two holy cities each year (RG 8.06 p447).

Unlike the Saudi Landbridge between Jeddah and Riyadh, which is to be built and operated by the private sector under a BOT concession, construction of the Western Railway will be managed directly by SRO.

The authorities in Makkah are also examining the feasibility of a light rail network to connect the station with the city's holy sites including the Grand Mosque, Mina and Arafah.