New GCC body for $200bn regional railway
By: Beatrice Thomas
The six-member Gulf Co-operation Council is set to form a new railway authority as it tries to coordinate the ambitious roll-out of the 2200km integrated regional railway project, the Times of Oman reports.
Speaking at the third annual Oman Land Transport Summit, GCC Secretariat-General Ramiz Al Assar was quoted as saying most member states had completed detailed engineering design on the project with a few expected to finish it by the end of this year or early next year.
He said member states had also agreed on certain common guidelines and minimum requirements for the $200bn project with the GCC developing a regional master plan schedule that would apply across the board.
However, he said the project, which will start in Kuwait City and connect all Gulf states to end in Muscat, was also “facing a lot of challenges”.
Among the biggest was “institutional issues” such as the need for a regional training academy for the railway sector.
“We are looking at on-the-job training now,” he was reported as saying. “We are now discussing with several countries for sending staff, who will go for training programmes for six to 18 months for working in railway operators, consultants or contractors and then come back.”
Al Assar said the GCC secretariat was expected to finalise plans for the authority in the forthcoming meeting of ministers of transport this month and another meeting of ministers of finance next month in Bahrain.
He said all member states were extremely supportive of the formation of the authority, which had a mandate from the GCC summit.
Al Assar said the member states had decided to go for a decentralised approach to the project, but “all agreed that it should be looked at as a single regional integrated and interoperable GCC railway,” the report said.
He said the $200bn investment included metro rail projects in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.
Al Assar said the GCC members had endorsed a standard speed of 200km/hr, which could be upgraded if there was growth in passenger traffic.