French rail giant Alstom has landed a major contract worth over €500 million to design, build, and maintain a pioneering battery-powered tramway system in AlUla, Saudi Arabia.
The ambitious project, slated to be the world's longest catenary-free tramway line, will stretch across 22.4 kilometres, weaving through five of AlUla's core historical districts: AlUla Old Town, Dadan, Jabal Ikmah, Nabataean Horizon, and Hegra Historical City.
It was also confirmed that Citadis B Battery-Trams will run on the line, which will be specially adapted to deal with the difficult climate throughout the region and will be built at Alstom’s French production sites.
The design will also be modified due to the route’s carving through UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Alongside the eco-friendly alternative tram option, overhead wires will be eliminated due to the catenary-free design, which will help minimise the environmental impact even further.
“This project is truly unique as it combines sustainability, passenger experience, and immersion into the surroundings, in a region full of history and wonders.
“It is so much more than a tramway and we are extremely honoured to have been selected by the Royal Commission of AlUla. This project incorporates many key elements of Vision 2030 including Saudi Arabia’s focus on environmental stewardship. We very much look forward to unveiling it to the world,” said Mohamed Khalil, managing director of Alstom Saudi Arabia.
However, the scope for Alstom’s involvement will go beyond just the production of the trams. As it will also handle the entire project including system design, integration and installation, testing and commissioning for 10 years. This includes power supply, signaling, communication, and depot equipment.
The AlUla tramway project forms part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 plan, which aims to diversify the economy and promote sustainable development and expands upon Alstom’s footprint in the region already. The company delivered the Dubai Tramway in 2014 – Which at the time was the world’s first catenary-free tramway in the world.