Page last updated at 09:26 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 10:26 UK

Thales signs Saudi rail contract

A 600km rail line will link Riyadh and al-Zubairah

French defence firm Thales and construction giant Saudi Binladin Group are to sign a $533m contract to build Saudi Arabia's North-South Railway.

The two companies will build signalling and security systems for the main 1,800km section of the $2.8bn railway.

The railway will link bauxite and phosphorus mines in the north with planned Gulf coast processing and export facilities at Ras al-Zour.

Another 600km section, which includes a passenger line, will be awarded later.

That line will link Riyadh with al-Zubairah in the north.

The North-South Railway scheme is one of three multi-billion dollar rail projects the government is developing.

Government and company officials said the contracts would be signed later on Tuesday.

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