27 March 2017
The expected start date for the Gulf Cooperation Council railway project, which aims to link the trade bloc’s six member states, has been pushed back two years to 2020, a senior GCC official told a local newspaper.
The re-scheduling of the project execution is due to technical and infrastructural delays, rather than political or financial causes, Abdul Rahim Al Naqi, secretary general of the Federation of GCC Chambers, told Arabic newspaper Al Eqtisadiyah.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman have already executed large portions of the project internally, Al Naqi noted, adding the first phase of the project starts with linking individual cities within each country and then the railway network will connect all the six GCC states at a later stage.
Bahrain has recently picked an international company to execute the project and produce proposal documents on the planned routes, Al Naqi confirmed.
Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE’s federal rail network, has updated its design to extend the rail project, according to a network map obtained by Zawya Projects.
The revised design includes additional freight lines as well as passenger lines that were not included in earlier versions of the network map. The new network map was distributed by Etihad Rail at its stand at the Middle East Rail conference held earlier this month in Dubai.
The first stage of the project is currently operational and Etihad Rail had said in January 2016 that it was suspending the tendering process for the second stage until after an investment review. The state-backed firm said it was reviewing options for the timing and delivery of the second phase, which would extend the network within the UAE and also connect it to Saudi Arabia and Oman.
In January 2016, the second phase of the UAE portion of the project was suspended by Etihad Rail which is developing the country’s 1,200 kilometre rail network, after completing the first stage of 266km of the line.
Following the sharp drop in oil prices that started in mid-2014, several governments in the Gulf Arab region began a review of projects as part of efforts to curb and streamline state spending. (Read more here
(Writing by Nada Al Rifai)
© Zawya 2017