SAUDI ARABIA: Tunnel boring has begun for the 38 km Line 1 of the future Riyadh metro network. The first tunnel boring machine for Line 1 is named Mneefah, after a horse owned by the country’s founding king, and is expected to progress at an average of 100 m/week to complete boring by mid-2016.

Lines 1 and 2 are being built under a US$10bn contract awarded in 2013 to the BACS consortium of Bechtel, Almabani General Contractors, Consolidated Contractors Co and Siemens. The consortium is to deploy seven TBMs to dig more than 35 km of tunnel.

‘Sending our team's first tunnel boring machine on its underground voyage is a significant step’, said Bechtel's project director, Amjad Bangash. ‘Getting early agreement on the alignment in the heart of the city was crucial to advance the detailed design work needed to start tunnelling. We appreciate the efforts that our client Arriyadh Development Authority and many other stakeholders undertook in helping us achieve this.’