- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: Riyahd begins construction of multi-billion dollar metro project
- Date: 6th April 2014
- Summary: RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (APRIL 03, 2014) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) CONSULTANT ON LINE 3 OF THE METRO PROJECT, PIETR BAGNATI, SAYING: "This project is the largest in the world of its kind, so everybody that is associated with this knows he is doing something that is making history. And I believe that it will change really the face of Riyadh, will improve it and make it more beautiful but also will change the life of its citizens." VARIOUS OF HEAVY MACHINERY BEGINNING CONSTRUCTION WORK IN ONE OF THE STATION SITES (SOUNDBITE) (English) CONSORTIUM PROJECT DIRECTOR, DR. AMJAD BANGASH, SAYING: "The contract that we have involves two lines, line one and line two, it is a 10 billion US dollar project, so it's a big investment by the local government and we are committed to completing these two lines within the schedule." VARIOUS OF TRAFFIC CONGESTION AT THE KING FAHAD MAIN STREET IN RIYADH
- Embargoed: 21st April 2014 13:00
- Location: Saudi Arabia
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Politics,Transport
- Reuters ID: LVAEZJRW8GX75XPUVP10TZBZJATY
- Story Text: Saudi Arabia began construction work on Riyadh's long awaited first metro rail system on Thursday (April 3).
The multi-billion project will involve six rail lines extending 176 kilometres (110 miles) and carrying electric, driverless trains, in what Saudi officials project to be the world's largest public transport system.
Riyadh Emir, Prince Khalid bin Bandar attended a groundbreaking ceremony in the capital on Thursday to mark the first day of construction work.
"On this blessed day we witness the start of works on the grounds of the metro project. The phase of research and planning is over and now it is time for implementation, and we call for God's help," said Prince Khalid bin Bandar.
Saudi Arabia awarded 22.5 billion USD in contracts to three foreign-led consortia for the design and construction of the system.
Professor Eckhard Gerber, from the Gerber Architekten International, in charge of the design work for the extensive project, said Riyadh's metro rail system would be 'unique'.
"It is a unique design, nothing like it has been done in the world before, it is a metro station on top of which is a green garden," said Professor Gerber, indicating a model of the project on display.
Pietr Bagnati, a consultant on Line 3 of the project, said the metro network would have a social impact for many.
"This project is the largest in the world of its kind, so everybody that is associated with this knows he is doing something that is making history. And I believe that it will change really the face of Riyadh, will improve it and make it more beautiful but also will change the life of its citizens."
While the metro is unlikely to persuade some Saudis to abandon their love for the automobile, others may welcome the chance to escape severe traffic congestion in the city.
Despite the country's oil wealth, analysts estimate millions of people live near the poverty line, and they will have a financial incentive to use the systems.
The metros may also make it easier for women to move around, in a country where they are not allowed to drive. The Riyadh metro carriages will have special "family sections" giving women privacy.
The project, which is expected to be completed in 2019, is estimated to require tens of thousands of workers.
Flush with cash after more than two years of high oil prices, Saudi Arabia is pumping billions of dollars into infrastructure projects designed to improve living standards and ease social discontent in the wake of the 2011 uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world.
The Saudi government also plans to modernise the transport system in the holy city of Mecca, including creating a bus network and a metro system.
It is also building several other rail systems, including a 2,750 kilometre line running from Riyadh to near the northern border with Jordan.
Saudi officials said Riyadh's population was projected to grow from 6 million to over 8 million in the next 10 years, making the metro vital to ease congestion and pollution in the capital's streets.
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