Rail infrastructure projects are picking up steam across the Gulf, with work on projects in Bahrain and Kuwait making progress this year, according to local media.
According to Arabian Business, work has already begun on a 111km railway project to connect Kuwait with the rest of the Gulf region.
The first phase of the project, set to cost $3bn (KWD908.4m), will create a line to Nuwaiseb on the Saudi border and a 153km line linking Kuwait City with Boubyan Port.
Stretching through all six Gulf states from Kuwait to Oman, the 2,100km passenger and cargo network has “faced technical and bureaucratic obstacles, and stalled as state budgets tightened because of low oil prices”, the report stated.
Meanwhile, Bahrain has reportedly said it will not connect its network to neighbouring state, Saudi Arabia, “until at least 2023”.
Work on Bahrain’s long-promised light rail system, according to an Arabian Business report, is likely to start in the last three months of 2019 as it seeks bids for construction.
According to Abdulm Rahman Al Janahi, an official from Bahrain’s transport ministry, the country may look to the private sector to partially fund the ambitious project, believed to cost between $1bn (BHD377.2m) and $2bn (BHD754.4m).
Similar to issues faced by the Kuwaiti rail project, work on Phase 1 of Bahrain’s light rail system was due to start in 2009, but was halted due to the financial crisis and budgetary approvals.
Transport infrastructure is one of the key pillars on Bahrain’s billion-dollar investment plan, part of a wider desire to upgrade its regional competitiveness.
While there appear to be delays in Kuwait and Bahrain, work is steadily progressing on the rail projects under way in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
This July, US firm Jacobs Engineering Group announced it had been selected to work on the UAE’s Etihad Rail project.
Jacobs will deliver critical technical and programme consulting services for the freight and passenger railway network.
The firm will also deliver engineering and design services for the network, in addition to reviewing and providing critical oversight for detailed designs, which will be prepared by design and build contractors.
Additionally, the company will provide construction supervision services for the development.
In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, test runs began for Riyadh Metro‘s Line 4 this June.
French transport system provider Alstom revealed it has been conducting initial dynamic tests for the megaproject’s Line 4 Depot Test Track, on which the FAST Consortium is working.
Tests cover the railway system’s performance in terms of power supply and signalling, using trains that have already been delivered for the project, located in Saudi’s capital city.