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Tunnelling starts on Riyadh Metro’s Line 1

A consortium led by Bechtel has begun tunnelling on Line 1 of the Riyadh Metro in Saudi Arabia.

The first tunnel boring machine, Mneefah, named after the horse of Saudi Arabia’s founder King, will steadily accelerate to its planned average tunnelling rate of about 325ft (100m) per week and is expected to complete its journey by mid-2016.

In total, seven tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will be deployed by the team to dig and construct more than 21 miles (more than 35km) of tunnels beneath the capital city.

Amjad Bangash, Bechtel’s project director, said the tunnelling work beneath the streets of the Saudi capital will 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, and many other stakeholders undertook in helping us achieve this,” he explained.

The Bechtel-led joint venture includes Almabani General Contractors, Consolidated Contractors Company and Siemens AG. The consortium is responsible for the $10bn (£6.4bn) contract for the design, construction, train cars, signalling, electrification and integration of lines 1 (blue) and 2 (green), two of the most challenging lines on the project.

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.

In May, it was announced that the first TBM had been launched on Riyadh Metro’s Green Line. The Green Line project is being undertaken by the Fast Consortium, a joint venture of FCC, Samsung, Alstom, Strukton, Freyssinet Saudi Arabia, Typsa, Atkins and Setec.

When completed, Riyadh Metro will be the country’s first underground rail system and one of the largest in the world.

The metro network is due to open in 2018.

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