Riyadh Metro tunneling work begins on six lines

Seven bespoke and purpose-built machines are currently being used to burrow beneath the Saudi capital

Tunnel boring machines are currently burrowing under the Saudi capital.
Tunnel boring machines are currently burrowing under the Saudi capital.

Tunnel boring work has commenced on the $22.5bn Riyadh Metro project in Saudi Arabia.

Seven bespoke and purpose-built machines are currently being used to burrow beneath the Saudi capital as contractors construct six interconnecting lines to help carry commuters around the city.

The seven TBMs will create tunnels up to 35 km long at around 30 metres under the capital. The 178 km-long system will have 85 stations in total, including underground, ground level and elevated stations.

The lines include:
The Blue Line: Route, Olaya Street to Al-Hayer Road, 44 km long with 39 stations.
The Green Line: Route, King Abdullah Road to King Fahad Stadium; 22 km-long with 14 stations
The Red Line: Route, Madina Al-Munawara to Rahman Al-Awal Road; 45 km-long
The Orange Line: Route, King Khaled International Airport to the new King Abdullah Financial District.
The Yellow Line: Route, King Abdul Aziz Road. 26 km-long with 26 stations
The Purple Line: Route, Abdul Rahman bin Ouf Street to the Shaikh Hassan bin Hussain bin Ali Street; 30 km with nine stations

Construction of the Riyadh metro started in April 2014 and is expected to be completed by 2018.

The metro project will be owned and operated by the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA). The project will have an execution period of five years and an optional maintenance service period for the next ten years. It is expected to create about 15,000 jobs in Saudi Arabia.

ADA awarded the design and construction contract of the Riyadh metro to three consortiums BACS, ANM and FAST, in August 2013.

The BACS consortium includes Bechtel, Almabani General Contractors, Consolidated Contractors Company and Siemens. The consortium is led by Bechtel and will design and construct the Blue and Green lines.

It will also be responsible for the train cars, signalling, electrification and integration of the lines to the metro network. The contract value is $9.4bn about $10bn.

ANM's contract worth $5.2bn includes construction of the Red Line, Qasr Al Hokom station and Western Station. The ArRiyadh New Mobility (ANM) consortium includes Ansaldo STS, Salini-Impregilo,

Larsen & Toubro, Nesma and Bombardier. Larsen & Toubro and Nesma will provide civil works services, Bombardier will look after the procurement of the vehicles and Ansaldo STS will provide technology support services for the Red Line.

Ansaldo STS will also provide signalling support services, ATC (Automation Train Control) and CBTC (Communication Based Train Control) and other telecommunication services. The contract value for Ansaldo STS is $680m with an option to add $249m for maintenance of the Red Line for the next ten years.

FAST, which is led by FCC Construccion, received a $7.9bn contract to construct and design the Orange, Yellow and Purple Lines. The consortium includes FCC Construccion, Samsung, Alstom, Strukton, Freyssinet Saudi Arabia, Typsa and Setec. The scope of contract includes construction of 64.6km of rail track, 29.8km of viaducts, 26.6km of underground track and 8.2km of over ground track.

Underground tunnels will be built with the help of three tunnel boring machines (TBM). The tunnels will have a diameter of 10m to facilitate the three metro lines. The $7.9bn will be financed through the Public Investment Fund of the Government of Saudi Arabia.

Alstom will provide its automated driverless metro system for the metro project under a $1.5bn (€1.2bn) worth contract.

Alstom will provide 69 metro trains for the Riyadh Metro project. It will also supply its Urbalis signalling system, a train braking energy recovery system called HESOP and Appitrack - a new technology to install tracks faster.

The metro trains will be operated in automated mode. Each train will have two cars. The driverless metro train will be 36m long and 2.71m wide.

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