Construction of an urban mass rail transit system for the holy city of Makkah is slated to start in 2013, with operations beginning four years later.
AlBalad AlAmeen Company (BAC) said it is working with an advisory team of Ernst & Young, Ashurst and Parsons Brinckerhoff to develop the procurement packages for the first stage of the system, including rail infrastructure, railway systems, rolling stock, depot and operations.
The company said in a statement that expressions of interest for stage 1 are anticipated by the end of this year.
Makkah faces significant congestion and transportation challenges as a focal point of the Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage, which attracts millions of visitors to the city every year. The city's own population is also growing rapidly and is estimated to double to three million by 2035.
The Makkah Mass Rail Transit project (MMRT) is a key aspect of the Municipality's strategy to address these growth challenges and the current public transport deficit.
The project will involve the construction of four new rail lines.
Stage 1 will include the construction of sections of Lines B and C. Line B section will be 10km long, with six new stations and will mainly be underground. It will be an extension of the existing Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah rail line, serving the holy shrines of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, and will connect to the new Haramain high-speed rail station west of Makkah city. Line C will be 29 kilometres long with 14 new stations, and will be constructed in a combination of tunnels and viaducts. The other two Lines, A and D, will be constructed in future stages.
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