MENA’s railway supply to grow 3% annually until 2021
According to Helmut Scholze, partner at Roland Berger, one of the leading global strategy consulting firms, “Despite some setbacks and the economic complexities seen in the past year, the rail market is picking up speed in the Middle East and North Africa. We predict further investments in rail systems and this will lead to significant, long-term growth in the rail equipment market. The UAE and Iran will be the key growth markets, while Saudi Arabia will stay moderately flat at its current high volume.”
The sixth edition of World Rail Market report, produced by Roland Berger and UNIFE, a professional association for the railway supply industry, forecasts that the rail equipment market will grow by 3% annually in the period through to 2021, almost at the same growth pace of Western Europe (3.1%).
Middle East Rail 2017, which took place on March 7 & 8 in Dubai, introduced both 2017 tenders and innovative technologies being implemented to build and operate futuristic networks.
Munir Patel, CEO, XRail Group, agrees: “The region is still a very prosperous place as Governments continue to realize the social, environmental and economic benefits of incorporating railway and metro systems into the transport infrastructure. The key is to stay connected to stay ahead. We have now established offices in Dubai, Doha and Riyadh, so we can be close to our clients to support them in their upcoming projects as we see stable growth in the market.” Last year, XRAIL was awarded a key contract to undertake the installation and testing of a remote conditioning monitoring system for Dubai Metro.
US$69 billion worth of projects are currently under construction in the GCC region. The 15km extension of the Dubai metro to the Expo 2020 site and the Saudi Land Bridge linking Riyadh to Jeddah is progressing well. In Egypt, the modernisation of a metro line and a large order for new metro vehicles is expected in Cairo. For the GCC Railway Project, individual member states are currently assessing the details of continuation of the project as well as domestic alternatives. Oman Rail is now weighing up plans for the development of a domestic heavy-haul line that will transport minerals from Thumrait to Duqm Port.
Andreas Schwilling, partner and global head of rail & mobility at Roland Berger added, “Private sector response to suggested PPPs in the region has been cautious and moderate. A clear demonstration on whether transportation projects can be built and operated in a way that generates the returns required by equity investors will define the future of PPPs in the infrastructure sector in the Middle East.”
Greenbrier Companies (GBX), one of the largest rolling stock providers, has expanded once again in the market with the acquisition of Astra Rail. Thomas P. Jackson, Vice President of Marketing, Greenbrier Companies, said: “With the Greenbrier-Astra Rail formation we are keenly focused to support long term growth opportunities in the GCC region. Our entry into Saudi Arabia's railcar market is a great honor and a great responsibility as we participate with the Kingdom in one of its premier economic development and engineering projects at Wa'ad al Shamal City.”
In 2016, Greenbrier delivered first set of 1,200 highly engineered railroad tank cars to Saudi Railway Company under a contract received in 2015. The company has set up a new corporate sales office in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. Three types of tank cars will support industrial mining operations – led by the national mining company, Ma'aden – at Wa'ad al Shamal Industrial City in the Sirhan-Turaif region of northern Saudi Arabia. The tank cars will facilitate rail transportation of molten sulfur and phosphoric acid products that are used in a range of industrial activities.