By Abdel Hai Mohamad www.business24-7.ae
The estimated cost of the Gulf rail network has rocketed from the initial $14 billion (Dh51.4bn) to between $20bn and $25bn, a senior official has revealed.
The increase is the result of improvements to the specifications ordered by the rulers of the GCC member-states, said Mohammed Obaid Al Mazrouie, the organisation’s Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs. He added: “The GCC leaders demand very high standards.”
The project will link the six GCC countries.
Al Mazrouie said the costs that will be shared by each state had been calculated, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE would pay the most because the largest parts of the network would be built on their territory.
A major study into the project has just been launched by the member states. “An international partnership has been asked to compile the study and work on it began a few days ago,” Al Mazrouie said, while speaking on the sidelines of the 33rd meeting of the Council of Governors of Arab Central Banks and Monetary Agencies.
Al Mazrouie said a technical committee had recently been formed to prepare for the construction of the railway. If the project proceeded the trains should start running in 2017.
Al Mazrouie highlighted the importance of member-states setting up local train services to boost the benefits of the GCC network.
Local train specifications should be compatible with those of the Gulf service.
He said the Dubai Metro was a major driving force behind the moves to establish a Gulf network.
“The Metro is a project that encourages the idea of the use of trains in GCC member-states. We believe the Gulf countries will benefit greatly from the example of the Metro as they set up similar projects.”