Saudi Arabia plans to open bidding for the construction of a $12bn metro rail system in Jeddah later this year, with operations set to begin in 2020, it was reported.
“Usually, railway projects take 36 months, so by the beginning of 2020 the construction phase should be over,” Osama Abdouh, chief executive of the state firm managing the project, told Reuters.
Several other contracts will be tendered by mid-2016, an official of Jeddah Metro Company told the Arabic-language daily Aleqtisadiah, with the main construction work likely to include five to six consultancy contracts.
The British architecture firm Foster + Partners has already won a contract for the design work, according to media reports.
The metro system will be 149 km long, Abdouh added, with 20 km underground. The system will mostly use elevated viaducts.
Abdouh did not mention how the project would be paid for, but said the government had deposited 446 billion riyals ($119 billion) at the central bank to fund infrastructure and economic development projects.
The Kingdom plans to push ahead with major infrastructure projects despite plunging oil prices.
Other rail projects in the pipeline for the Kingdom include a $22.5 billion metro system in Riyadh, expected to be complete by 2018. The government also plans to build a metro in Makkah and has proposed another for Madinah.