The Royal Commission of Al Ula has signed a $500 million contract with the French Company Alstom to build the world’s longest battery-powered, catenary-free tramway in AlUla.
The pioneering Alstom tramway project is due to cover 22.4km and link 17 stations, offering unrivaled access to Al Ula’s five historic districts, including the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Al Ula Old Town and Hegra Historical City.
Alstrom has a great track record in the Middle East with previous projects, including the Dubai tramway, the new Riyadh metro, and the Haramain High-Speed railway that links the Holy Cities Makkah and Madinah.
The Pioneering Al Ula Tramway Project
This ground-breaking project deemed the world’s longest battery-operated tramway without a catenary system (overhead cables), spans an impressive distance of 22.4 kilometres.
It is a testament to Alstom’s commitment to creating custom-built integrated systems designed to meet the unique needs of its customers. The tramway system will feature 20 state-of-the-art Citadis B battery trams to provide passengers with a seamless journey through time.
“This project is truly unique as it combines sustainability, passenger experience, and immersion into the surroundings, in a region full of history and wonders.” Mohamed Khalil, Managing Director of Alstom Saudi Arabia
Connecting People and Heritage
The tramway system will encompass 17 strategically located stations, offering unmatched access to AlUla’s five core historical districts. These include UNESCO World Heritage sites including:
- AlUla Old Town (District 1)
- Dadan (District 2)
- Jabal Ikmah (District 3)
- Nabataean Horizon (District 4)
- Hegra Historical City (District 5)
The tramway project encapsulates richness, history, and green mobility by connecting these historically significant areas.
Focus on Sustainability
The AlUla tramway project is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, which aims to diversify the economy and promote sustainable development.
The project underscores Alstom’s commitment to providing reliable and sustainable transportation alternatives that align with the ambitious rail targets of the Vision 2030 initiative.
The tram system’s design enhances the region’s rich heritage while reducing carbon emissions. The eco-friendly tram option eliminates the need for overhead wires due to its catenary-free design, minimizing the environmental impact.
The fully integrated turnkey tramway system will have 20 advanced Citadis™ trams equipped with the Mitrac B™ battery solution. These trams will implement an innovative, fast, invisible SRS ground-based static charging system.
Alstom will also provide power supply, signaling, communication systems, and depot equipment for the project.
The delivery of this integrated turnkey system will draw on Alstom’s global in-house expertise in turnkey railway solutions.
As a one-stop shop for tram systems, Alstom combines in-house skills in rolling stock, signaling, and rail infrastructure subsystems to design and deliver the best system to meet reliability, availability, and riding comfort objectives.
A Multinational Effort
The production of the trams will involve 9 Alstom sites in France, working together with teams in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The sites involved in the manufacturing of the tramways include
- La Rochelle (for design and assembly)
- Le Creusot (for bogies)
- Ornans (for motors)
- Villeurbanne (for on-board electronics and cyber security)
- Aix-en-Provence (for tachometers),
- Valenciennes (for the design and supply of interior fittings and services)
- Vitrolles (for the design and supply of free catenary charging system)
- Tarbes (for its contribution to the supply of the autonomy system)
- Saint-Ouen (for design).
Maintenance and Training
Alstom will also provide complete maintenance for the trams and system for 10 years using HealthHub™, Alstom’s predictive maintenance and fleet management tool. This will ensure the highest availability of the trams.
The services teams will also use a mobile workshop for all overhauls to be more flexible and reduce capital expenditure. Alstom will also offer robust training programs for tram personnel to ensure operational efficiency.
Alstom in Saudi Arabia
Alstom has a history of over 70 years in Saudi Arabia, having supported various major projects in the country. This includes the Haramain high-speed rail line between Makkah and Madinah, the Riyadh Metro, and the Green Hydrogen Train Project.
Alstom also provided the Automated People Mover (APM) system to Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport. The APM is the airport’s internal rail system that transports passengers between terminals and can carry 4,000 passengers per hour.
Alstom and Saudi Arabia’s partnership on testing new Green Hydrogen Trains is part of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the Saudi Green Initiative, which aims to reduce carbon emissions and promote clean energy.
The hydrogen train project is a key part of the objectives of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, which aims to transition to a more sustainable transport system that harnesses the latest intelligent technologies.
Alstom Projects in The GCC
The Dubai Metro, a flagship project in the United Arab Emirates, has been operational since 2009. Alstom has significantly contributed to the project, supplying rolling stock and advanced signaling systems.
Moreover, Alstom has successfully launched its inaugural tramway in Qatar, Lusail Tramway, marking the commencement of its commercial operations. Spanning a network length of 28km, this currently represents the most extensive tramway system project in the Gulf region, incorporating 7 km of underground tracks.
The operational network boasts 28 Citadis X05 trams, each accommodating 209 passengers, contributing to the region’s efficient and eco-friendly public transportation.
A Step Towards the Future
The AlUla experiential tramway project is another step towards the future, combining historical legacy with cutting-edge technology. It is a significant step in Saudi Arabia’s journey towards achieving its Vision 2030 goals.
This project is a testament to Alstom’s commitment to providing sustainable, green mobility solutions that shape the future. The project enhances the passenger experience and contributes to environmental stewardship, making it a truly unique venture in public transportation.