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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, May 21, 2018

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GCC railway network to be ready by 2020 says UAE minister

Railway extending over 260km

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DUBAI, UAE - The GCC railway connection will be a reality by 2018 with many lines already well advanced in terms of development, according to a statement made by Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, the UAE Minister of Public Works and Chairman of the Federal Transport Authority (FTA).

"Though 2018 has been set as initial deadline for the GCC rail to take shape, the UAE is steps ahead of the scheduled timetable," Nuaimi told journalists at a press conference in Dubai.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are in line with the set schedule but not all Gulf countries will be ready by 2018, and hence 2020 has been set as maximum timeframe for the project, he added.

"The primary total cost of the GCC rail stands at $20 billion. However, the expenses are expected to jump to around $30 billion," Nuaimi said.

Nuaimi said the first of three-phases of the Etihad Rail project has been completed whereas the $300 million budget of the second phase has been allocated by the federal authorities.

The main GCC rail line connecting Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait is 2,100km with each country developing additional feeder lines connecting to it.

The rail network will feature passenger and freight services, with passenger trains planned to travel between GCC countries at 200kph, while freight trains will be half that speed.

The first stage of the GCC rail in the UAE, extending over 260km, has been finished from Habshan to Ruwais in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi.

The country will be connected with the international borders in the second phase of the project, which is more than 600km long while the rest, about 574km, will be built in the third phase.

Nuaimi said the FTA is drafting several pieces of regulatory legislation requiring regional consensus to avoid any barriers that may hinder the rail transport sector and to maintain the seamless operation of the railway market in the GCC.

"The UAE rail law has been finalised and is expected to be approved by the authorities in the fourth quarter of this year," he told journalists.

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