Tunnelling work begins on Riyadh Metro project

riyadh metroTunneling has begun on Line 1 of Riyadh Metro, touted to be the country’s first underground rail system and one of the largest in the world

The Bechtel-led consortium, which includes Saudi Arabian company Almabani General Contractors, Middle East-based Consolidated Contractors Company and Germany’s Siemens AG, is responsible for the US$10bn contract for the design, construction, train cars, signalling, electrification and integration of Lines 1 and 2 — two of the most challenging lines on the Riyadh Metro project.

The Riyadh Metro is part of a 25-year strategic plan prepared by the high commission for the Development of Arriyadh to cater for this growth. When complete, the 176 km, six-line driverless network is expected to serve 400,000 passengers.

The work includes 39 stations, two of which are key interchange stations: Olaya Station, situated in the centre of Riyadh at the intersection of Lines 1 and 2, and King Abdullah Financial District Station, located slightly to the north on Line 1.

Bechtel’s director on the project Amjad Bangash said, “The metro, set to be the cornerstone of Riyadh’s new public transport network, will revolutionise how people move around the city.

“Sending our team’s first tunnel boring machine on its underground voyage is a significant step for all.”

Bangash, however, said that the tunnelling work beneath the streets of the Riyadh would prove challenging. “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 (ADA), and many other stakeholders undertook in helping us achieve this.”

The first tunnel boring machine, Mneefah, will steadily ramp up to its planned average tunnelling rate of about 100 metres per week and is expected to complete its journey by mid-2016.

In total, seven tunnel boring machines will be deployed by the Bechtel-led team to dig and construct more than 35 km of tunnels beneath the capital city.

Riyadh is one of the world’s fastest-growing cities, with a population expected to increase 50 per cent by 2035 to 7.5mn.

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