The Riyadh metro project is on schedule to be fully-operational by 2019, officials from the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh announced at a press conference on Thursday.

At a cost of $23bn, the metro is one of the world’s largest urban transport projects and is set to handle 3 million commuters to relieve traffic congestion in Saudi’s capital city.

Khalid Alhazani, director of the architectural project program and public affairs at Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA), said: “We are on schedule. We reached 48% completion and we believe the metro will start operating by early 2019 with no delay.”

Alstom is supplying 69 Metropolis automated aluminium two-cars trainsets, each 36 metre-long and suitable for accommodating up to 231 passengers, for lines 4, 5 and 6 (or Yellow, Green, and Purple).

As part of the FAST consortium, the company has worked on the project since April 2014 alongside FCC Construction, Samsung C&T, Strukton and Freysinnet.

Alhazani acknowledged the challenges of the public transport system, explaining: “This is the first metro project in the Kingdom; people in Riyadh don’t have experience in public transportation.

“It will take time for people to get used to public transportation,” he added.

He said that Saudi officials have already created a detailed plan to make it easier for Saudi’s to use the metro once operational.

Aside from construction, the consortium is also responsible for training Saudi graduates in the range of administrative and technical skills to operate and maintain the metro system, and others like it in the future.