The 2,250-kilometre long rail network, which will link all the Gulf countries, is expected to be completed in 2018 Earlier this month, the committee charged with preparing the GCC rail network project put the final touches to the design in preparation to put it out for bid.
The 2,250-kilometre long rail network, which will link all the Gulf countries, is expected to be completed in 2018, after extending its timeline by one more year. It will run along the Gulf coast from Kuwait in the north, through Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries, to Oman in the south.
With construction to start soon, it will constitute a qualitative leap in the bloc’s infrastructure and have significant economic and environmental aspects reflecting positively on all the GCC States.
The railway project will create over 50,000 jobs, most of which will be designated for Gulf citizens who will gain new technical and managerial skills in managing land-based infrastructure. Such opportunities were limited to road transportation until now, which are costly to manage and cause environmental pollution.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia are at the forefront of the GCC countries to have taken practical steps to set this project on its course. Etihad Rail has already entered its second phase, which is expected to become operational as per the projected schedule.
Saudi Arabia has invited bidders for the implementation of the first phase of a railway network running through its territories.
The GCC railway project will contribute to setting up significant related projects, such as the construction of a 25-kilometre long bridge between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and another 45-kilometre long bridge between Bahrain and Qatar.
This will provide an integrated network that will contribute effectively to stimulating bilateral trade and cutting transport costs, and consequently reducing commodity prices.
Meanwhile, other projects, such as the Dubai Metro as well as those being developed in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Doha, and others in Kuwait, Manama and Muscat, will have a complementary role to the sophisticated GCC network.
This will help find solutions to the problem of traffic congestions that have become a burden on the economies of GCC states, be it by way of the high cost of road projects or losses resulting from car accidents, being one of the world’s highest rates.
The number of vehicles in the GCC will double every 10 years, which will increase the already high energy consumption.
Therefore, reducing power consumption and saving huge amounts that allocated by GCC’s budgets for subsidising vehicle fuel and electricity, will be added to the many gains the GCC nations will achieve thanks to the rail networks, represented in local metro projects and the GCC railway projects through the gird railway network.
Since this project is very important for the economies, it is also important to embark on its implementation as per the scheduled timeline and exclude the possibility of any delay again.
This is because appropriate conditions prevail thanks to the revenues resulting from high oil prices and the intense competition between rail network building companies, which would result in optimally priced bids.
European companies with their high project delivery records and access to advanced technologies will be competing with those operators from China, who too have made progress in establishing high-speed networks.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia, have already embarked on constructing their railway projects, a vital detail in ensuring a solid start to complete this vital project.
The remaining GCC countries are required to take similar practical steps, especially after the decision by the committee on the final plan design.