Saudis offer to conduct study of feasibility of Gulf rail project

JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia has offered to carry out a feasibility study of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) railway project, according to Muhammad Mazrooei, assistant secretary-general for economic affairs at the GCC.

By A Staff Reporter

Published: Thu 23 Jun 2005, 10:28 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 4:45 PM

It may be recalled that the six-member GCC is studying the possibility of constructing a rail network that would link its member countries. The rail network, estimated to cost SR22.5 billion, would be later expanded to cover other Arab states.

Mazrooei added that the project would help the travel of people and flow of goods within the GCC. He said the study, which would include bidding proposals, would be completed within six months.

An initial study proposed the laying of two railway lines, the first being 1,970 kilometres long, stretching from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and through a bridge to Qatar, and from there to the UAE and Oman. The second line would be 1,984 kilometres, running from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia and the UAE and ending in Oman.

Saudi Arabia is expected to begin construction of a rail link from the Arabian Gulf to the Red Sea by the end of this year. It also wants to link the western cities of Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah and connect northern phosphate and bauxite mines with Jubail on the Gulf.

Saudi authorities have not yet disclosed the exact cost of the railway expansion project but analysts said it would exceed SR10 billion.

Meanwhile, an Arabic business daily Al-Eqtesadiah reported on Monday that the Riyadh Regional Council has decided to build a 340-km rail track linking the capital with the central city of Buraidah in the Qassim region.

The GCC rail link supports a major Arab project to establish a railway network throughout the Middle East. The plan envisages establishing a rail link between the Middle East and Europe and Asia, and connecting the Gulf region to the rest of the Arab world.

The plan was completed at a recent meeting of the directors general of the Mideast Railways Organisation.

Under the Arab plan, a rail track would run through the GCC states and proceed through Saudi Arabia's Red Sea region toward Jordan, Syria and Turkey. From Turkey, the train network would move northwest toward the rest of Europe or Asia. Officials said the execution of the regional network project would depend on whether member countries of the Middle East agree to finance their portions of the project.

Abdul Razak Abdul Feilat, chairman of the Mideast Railways Organisation, said the organisation was trying to coordinate funding from a consortium of regional banks or international financial institutions. He said the cost of a rail link between Amman, Jordan and the Syrian border would cost $200 million. The cost from Damascus to the Turkish border was estimated at $600 million.

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