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Saudi Railways Organisation Announces Saudi Landbridge Project Day; London, 31st January 2005.

LONDON -- Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) today announced a Project Day for the Saudi Landbridge to be held in London on 31st January 2005. Dr. Jobara Al-Suraisry, Minister of Transport and Chairman of SRO's Board of Directors will preside over the proceedings of the Project Day. Dr. Al-Suraisry is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Ports Authority.

The Landbridge is the cornerstone of the Railway Expansion Program approved by the Kingdom's Supreme Economic Council. The project is to be implemented through private sector participation as a BOT concession. It will be the first ever rail link between the Red Sea and the Gulf and is expected to have a profound impact on shipping patterns in the region. A considerable saving in shipping time for goods originating in Europe and North America and destined to Gulf markets should be possible with the Landbridge.

SRO hopes from holding the Project Day to disseminate project information that would assist key players in related industries and other prospective investors in forming consortia to bid for the project.

Riyadh, the capital, and Dammam, Saudi Arabia's major port on the Gulf, are currently linked by two lines: a 556 km single track built in the 1950s, used only by freight trains; and a 449 km single track built in the 1980s, used exclusively by passenger trains. Annual traffic volume over the existing network amounts to about 300 million passenger-km and 1.0 billion ton-km of cargo.

The Saudi Landbridge will transform the existing rail network in the Kingdom into a world-class freight and passenger rail link across the country. It will have the capability of moving large quantities of cargo over long distances at competitive rates and will offer safe, comfortable, and fast overland passenger transport between the country's four major economic centers. The railway will connect the port cities of Jeddah, Dammam and Jubail via Riyadh (population; 5 million). Riyadh's Dry Port, which handled in 2003, more than 250,000 TEU's transported by rail from and to Dammam's King Abdul Aziz Port, is expected to experience a large boost in its activity once the Landbridge becomes operational. Since its opening in 1981, the Dry Port has proved very popular with importers in Riyadh who highly value the facility of clearing their custom bonded goods at their final destination rather than in Dammam. The Landbridge will extend the same facility to imports via Jeddah's Islamic Port. The seaports in Jeddah and Dammam are the largest in Saudi Arabia, handling on annual basis 2.40 million and 0.75 million TEUs respectively. Saudi Arabia's annual trade amounts to about US$ 95 billion exports and US$ 40 billion imports.

The project will comprise:

--Construction of a 950 km new line between Riyadh and Jeddah. This line, in conjunction with the existing Riyadh-Dammam lines, will be primarily used for the transport of container traffic between the port of Jeddah and Riyadh as well as the port of Dammam for further shipment to and from the Gulf countries. The line will also be used to transport passengers between Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dammam.

--Construction of a 115 km new line between Dammam and Jubail the largest industrial city in Saudi Arabia hosting many world-class petrochemical industries. The rail connection to Jubail will provide a reliable and economical means of transport for the city's industrial products to other parts of the country and export markets via Jeddah's port.

--Upgrade of the existing rail link between Riyadh and Dammam to provide for increased traffic volumes generated by the Landbridge.

Dr. Al-Suraisry emphasized the importance the Government attaches to the project by stating: "We are convinced that now more than ever, the time is ripe for bringing to Saudi Arabia the many benefits of an expanded rail network. The Supreme Economic Council's decision to implement the Landbridge project through private sector participation and privatise SRO in the process, is in line with the Government's declared policies of allowing greater private participation in sectors which in the past have been the exclusive domain of the public sector. "

Commenting on the announcement of the Project Day, Khalid Alyahya, SRO President, and Chairman of the Inter-ministerial Committee overseeing the implementation of the Expansion Program said: "We are delighted to announce the Landbridge Project Day. A tremendous amount of preparatory work for launching the tender for the BOT concession has been completed and we look forward to explaining our plans and ensuring that interested organisations can meet each other and consider how they want to participate in this very important multi billion Riyals project. We expect strong participation from financial investors, construction companies, shipping lines, port operators, rail operators, and equipment suppliers. We want to make sure that everybody understands the real potential of the Saudi Landbridge".

A consortium comprising UBS Investment Bank, The National Commercial Bank and SNCF International has been retained by the SRO to provide financial and technical advisory services for the project. Linklaters, together with the Law office of Abdulaziz H Fahad, is providing the legal advisory services.

Participation in the Project Day will be by invitation. Application Forms for the invitation can be obtained by visiting on the Project's web site. Applications according to the prescribed format may be submitted electronically or by fax to the following addresses:
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Dec 21, 2004
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