Middle East High Speed Railway benefits from UK expertise
The 460km long Haramain High Speed Rail link represents one of the most important transport projects in the expansion programme of the Saudi railway network and connects, for the first time, Islam’s holy cities of Medinah and Mecca. Around 3 million people performed the Hajj pilgrimage in 2011, for whom this rail link is designed to transport.
UK involvement in the project includes the design of the stations by British architects in a JV between Foster & Partners and Buro Happold.
Commissioned by Saudi Bin Ladin Group, in consortium with Yapi Merkezi, on behalf of Saudi Railways Organisation, our brief was to supply and install surface water and sustainable drainage systems. Construction took place from 2009 to 2013, the railway beginning operations in 2014.
The main objective of the circa US$11 billion programme is to enable holy pilgrimages and local Saudi tourists to travel with ease between the country’s primary destinations and conurbations, relieving pressure on busy roads connecting Mecca and Medinah.
Medinah Station, together with 4 other ultra-modern stations, will be capable of handling around 60 million passengers per year currently and circa 135 million by 2042.
How it works
Despite its relative infrequency, rainfall can be sudden and dramatic, with the capacity to generate substantial volumes of surface water in a small window of time. With naturally sourced water increasingly in demand, its management and control is of vital social and political importance.
Having challenged the client’s original intention to install one large concrete tank, both expensive to build and complex to install, SDS demonstrated that its geocellular tanks could exceed the engineering expectations of the system whilst delivering substantial cost savings. Approvals were awarded by the multiple contracting organisations.
3 bespoke GEOlight® attenuation tanks, providing 3,000m3 combined capacity of surface and roof water runoff, have been installed.
In fulfilling the advantages of its “turnkey” service, SDS Project Managers worked alongside local labourers in high ambient temperatures to ensure the tanks were installed to the timescales required by the contract.
This project has led to further opportunities in the Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for similar large scale transportation projects including the extension of the High Speed Railway into Turkey as it expands its route westwards across Europe.
The “desert high speed line” is expected to be completed by the end of 2016 and will connect the most powerful country in the Gulf area, with trains travelling at speeds of up to 320 kph.