Gulf Rail Connectivity Project on Track for Completion by 2021
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations remain committed to the Gulf railway network project and by 2021, the United Arab Emirates will have a rail link with Saudi Arabia, two top officials told delegates at the Middle East Rail conference in Dubai on Monday.
Khalifa Bin Saeed Al Abri, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Development Affairs at the GCC General Secretariat, said despite the delay in the railway project — originally slated for completion at the end of 2018, but rescheduled last year to the end of 2021 — GCC countries remained committed to its success and to investors.
The planned 2,100 km (1,300 mile) passenger and cargo network will connect the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.
Al Abri noted that the first stage of the UAE’s railway project was 264km that are operational between Shah in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region and Ruwais, near the border with Saudi Arabia.
By 2021, the United Arab Emirates will have a rail link with Saudi Arabia, the senior transport official said.
Saudi Arabia had designed and was working on 200km of rail track to link with the Gulf Railway, while Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait were designing their portions with Kuwait and Bahrain joining the network by December 2023. Oman said it would shift its focus to building its domestic network.
He mentioned 16 technical agreements have been made to cover the design, building and operational aspects of the railway network.
Dr Abdullah Salem al-Kathiri, director general of the Federal Authority for Transport Land and Marine (FTA-LM) told a press conference at the conference on March 13 that all six GCC countries are moving forward with national rail plans which include links to neighboring states.
Originally due for completion this year, the project has been delayed by financial challenges, largely resulting from the collapse in oil prices in 2014-15, which wiped $360 billion off government revenues in the GCC states.
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