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Saudi Arabia issues tender to build low carbon tram

AlUla tram Supplied
The first phase of the AlUla tram system is rolling stock designed by Systra to resemble carriages from the historic Hijaz railway
  • Tram track connects to AlUla’s most important landmarks
  • Royal Commission for AIUla to make tourist destination carbon-neutral

Saudi Arabia has issued a tender to build a low carbon tram project to serve the kingdom’s tourism hotspot of AlUla.

According to Saudi Tenders, a projects and tenders intelligence platform, the tender went live on Friday and is seeking a company to construct a 46km track as part of plans to develop its eco-tourism credentials.

The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) said the tram will connect all of AlUla’s most important landmarks, archaeological sites, tourist destinations, urban areas and transport infrastructure.

The first phase of the system will be designed by the international mobility firm Systra, which will take the lead on systems integration and the design of rolling stock resembling carriages from the historic Hijaz railway which passed through the AlUla valley while transporting passengers from Damascus in Syria to Madinah in Saudi Arabia.

Tourism chiefs are inviting companies to respond to the tender to build the project.

Phase one of the project will run from the historic AlUla Central Hijaz railway station to Hegra, the Unesco World Heritage Site in the north.

Stations will also be constructed at Hegra South, Equestrian Village North and Equestrian Village South, Nabataean Farms, Al Uthayb, the Incense Museum, Jabal Ikmah, Tal Al Khatib, Dadan North, Dadan Village and Dadan, Al Jadidah, Old Town, AlUla Central East and AlUla Hijaz.

AlUla tram
Systra and the Royal Commission for AlUla sign tram contract

The second phase of the tram will extend to the south of AlUla, running to the international airport.

The AlUla tram, with a maximum speed of 50 km per hour, aims to reduce people’s dependency on personal cars or diesel buses. Introduced earlier this year in the Old Town, an autonomous pods service has proved to be a success with residents and visitors. 

The tram, the pods and a growing network of electric buses, cycle paths and alternative transport options are in line with RCU’s commitment to make AlUla net carbon-neutral by 2035 for local emissions, excluding air travel and food imports.

Located 1,100km from Riyadh, AlUla covers 22,561 sq km and includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years to when the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms reigned.

The most well-known and recognised site in AlUla is Hegra, a 52-hectare ancient city which was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and is comprised of more than 100 well preserved tombs with elaborate facades cut out of the sandstone outcrops surrounding the walled urban settlement.

Current research also suggests Hegra was the most southern outpost of the Roman Empire after conquering the Nabataeans.

RCU was established by royal decree in July 2017 to protect and safeguard AlUla and it is embarking on a long-term plan to develop and deliver a sustainable transformation of the region.

AlUla tram
Interior design of trams planned for Saudi tourist hotspot AlUla