RIYADH: A $22.5 billion urban rail and bus system for the congested Saudi Arabian capital is on track, Riyadh’s governor said Wednesday, as other projects in the kingdom are delayed.
“The project is going very well” and according to plan, he said on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the end of digging part of the underground railway tunnel.
Prince Faisal spoke after riding a golf cart into a smoothly bored and reinforced tunnel from what will be Malaz station in south Riyadh.
For the moment, the future station on Line Three is still a rectangular hole in the ground, about a block long, and carved out of the rock for several floors down.
The governor said that what he saw underground was “assuring” and one-third of the Metro is now complete.
At the ceremony, he saw the cutting tool from a tunnel boring machine rise out of the ground at a site on Line Five where digging has been completed “before the scheduled time”.
The Metro employs seven such machines, whose cutting tools resemble monster-sized heads from an electric shaver, several meters (yards) in diameter.
“This project… is now going very quick,” one manager at the site told AFP.
Construction on the Riyadh Metro began in late 2013 and is targeted for completion by the end of 2018, much more quickly than similar projects in other countries.
It is the biggest infrastructure project in the history of the Saudi capital.
Work on the Metro intensified just before the oil revenues on which Saudi Arabia depends began to drop sharply. More info