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Alstom agrees $550m deal for Saudi battery tram

Twenty battery-powered trams will serve AlUla's five historical districts Alstom
Twenty battery-powered trams will serve AlUla's five historical districts
  • World’s longest with no overhead line
  • Improved access to AIUIa sites
  • 22km system with 17 stations

The French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom has signed a contract worth more than €500 million ($547 million) to build a battery-powered tram system in the Saudi tourist destination AlUla.

The company’s deal with the Royal Commission for AlUla will result in the world’s longest tram system without an overhead electrical line.

The system will have 20 battery trams operating along a 22.4km line with 17 stations, to give improved access to AlUla’s five core historical districts, including Unesco World Heritage sites such as AlUla Old Town, Nabataean Horizon and Hegra Historical City.

Mohamed Khalil, managing director of Alstom Saudi Arabia, said the tram deal “combines sustainability, passenger experience, and immersion into the surroundings, in a region full of history and wonders.”

Alstom’s role includes system design, integration, installation and testing and commissioning. 

Alstom said it would also deliver power supply, signalling, communication and depot equipment, and provide full maintenance for the trams for 10 years. It did not give a date for the system’s opening. 

The trams will be manufactured across Alstom’s French production sites, including in La Rochelle.

The AlUla tram, with a maximum speed of 50km per hour, aims to reduce people’s dependency on personal cars or diesel buses. 

The AlUla tram project builds on Alstom’s other business in the GCC, which includes tramways in Dubai and Lusail, Qatar.

A service providing “autonomous pods”, electric vehicles that carry up to 22 people, introduced last year in the Old Town has been a success with residents and visitors. 

In Saudi Arabia, the company has supported the Haramain high-speed rail line between Mecca and Medina and has also provided an automated people-mover system to Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport.

In October, it signed an agreement with the state-owned Saudi Railway Company to develop hydrogen trains for the kingdom. 

The tram is part of plans to develop the tourism potential of AlUla. Located around 1,000km from Riyadh, it covers 22,500 sq km and includes an oasis valley, sandstone mountains and cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years to the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms.

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