The 2,117km GCC Railway that will connect key cities in each of the six GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) member states is on track. All feasibility and traffic studies have been completed and the regional rollout will materialise soon.
A Gulf railway expert shared this with Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the two-day Middle East Rail Exhibition and Conference that concluded in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Nasser AlQahtani, GCC Railway Authority expert, said the GCC Railway Authority – that was created by the Supreme Council of the GCC to oversee and manage the implementation of region’s railway network – is actively supporting all member states for the regional railway project.
AlQahtani also gave updates on the individual efforts by GCC member states to expand their local transport infrastructure in line with GCC Railway. He added both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are the front runners of the project.
GCC Railway updates
The UAE’s 900km national network has been completed and Etihad Rail's commercial freight services have been fully operational since April, transporting any type of cargo across the country. The freight trains are powered by a fleet of 38 locomotives and more than 1,000 wagons.
Saudi Arabia’s 200-km Ras Al Khair-Damman route passing through Jubail has been completed. Preliminary designs for the rest of the track have been completed and work is underway to complete the review of the project designs and obtain permits for the remaining intersections with various authorities.
Oman Rail and Etihad Rail established a joint venture to build and operate a railway network linking Sohar Port to the UAE National Rail Network. A consulting company has been appointed to update design and technical studies. Work is underway in land acquisition. Oman and Etihad Rail Company is working on setting a schedule for operating the project that will be announced soon.
Phase 1 of Qatar Rail’s infrastructure design and implementation of documents have been completed. Reservation and acquisition of rail corridor inside Qatar is completed. Doha Metro is operational since May 2019.
King Fahad Causeway Authority in cooperation with Saudi Ministry of Transportation and Bahrain Ministry of Transport and Communications are working on the transitional phase off the parallel bridge project that will link Bahrain to the GCC railways network. The first phase of the project has been completed.
The design consultancy contract for Kuwait’s 111km railway track has been released and proposals are expected to be received by end of May 2023.
AlQahtani added “GCC Railway Authority is coordinating with each member state to make sure there are no difficulties in adapting to uniform standards and common guidelines for the railway tracks.”
He noted for the freight and cargo services, the regional railway project will follow the North American railway freight model, and European standard for the passenger train services.
Meanwhile, GCC Secretary General Jasem Mohamed AlBudaiwi, in his keynote speech on Monday, noted, “GCC states have taken thoughtful steps to coordinate and unify their policies and strategies aimed at implementing a collective action framework” for the GCC Railway project.
He added some member states have finished building parts of the project within their territories. He also underscored the significance of the railway project which “represents a prominent step in the joint Gulf interdependence and integration with direct positive impact on inter-trade exchange movement, and citizens and residents’ mobility across the GCC.
He said “the railway project also supports joint investments among member states and strengthens Gulf economic integration and its impact on the global economy.”
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