The Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU), the master developer of the historic city of Alula in north-west Saudi Arabia, is expected to award the design, build, and operate contract for the AlUla tramway project within a matter of days, according to a high-ranking official.

Amr Salah, Vice President for Infrastructure at RCU, made the announcement during the Middle East Rail event in Abu Dhabi last week, revealing that the Commission will “in very few days” appoint a rolling stock partner for the ‘experiential tram’ project.

“We presently have an ongoing tender… design, build, and operate for a 10-year period. I cannot disclose more information because this will be closed very soon,” Salah stated.

He elaborated, “We plan to execute the tramway project in two phases, with the first phase extending approximately 22 kilometres and comprising 16 stations.” Salah confirmed that the concept design for the stations has already been finalised.

In July 2022, RCU awarded the contract for preliminary and detailed design studies of the tramway to French transportation engineering consultancy SYSTRA. The contract’s scope encompassed various facets such as infrastructure, landscape and architecture, stations, workshop/depot, track, rolling stock, and systems.

Salah emphasised that the tramway, extending from the historic Al Ula Central Hijaz station to the Hegra site in the north, is designed to enhance the visitor experience while also serving as an environmentally friendly mode of transportation within the historical development.

The tram will run at a speed of less than 40km/hour to allow passengers to appreciate the splendour of Alula, the RCU official said. Additionally, the tramway will operate using catenary-free electrical systems, thus ensuring zero carbon emissions.