Region rides the railroad


    It’s not just the upcoming Dubai Metro; the whole region is gearing up to welcome many more train lines.

    The last preparations are underway for the opening of the $7.62 billion Dubai Metro on September 9. When the Metro is completely operational, authorities expect 3,500 passengers to use its services per hour; however, by launch day only 11 out of 60 trains will be operational, and only 10 out of 29 stations will be open.

    The Dubai Metro is just one of the numerous rail projects that have been announced in the region in the recent years. According to Meed magazine, Gulf states are spending more than $100 billion on railway projects to help reduce congestion on the roads. In July this year, the UAE government also set up the Etihad railways company with a capital of AED1 billion, to look into all the rail requirements in the country.

    Here are some of the region’s planned projects.

    1.  Saudi has said that the $1.7 billion monorail project linking Makkah with the sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah will be ready to use for Haj pilgrims in 2010. “Work on the project began in Muharram (soon after the last Haj season) and will be ready for use to 35 percent of its capacity during the Haj season of 1431,” a report issued by the Supreme Haj Committee said.

    The project is being implemented by a consortium of companies led by China Railway Company, and is expected be completely in 2011.

    2. Earlier this year, transport ministers from the GCC approved a feasibility study for a $12 billion railway network connecting all the six Gulf nations. The construction is scheduled to start in 2010, and it is expected to be operational by 2016, with each state completing its portion of track.

    The rail will run from Muscat in Oman to Kuwait City and pass through the UAE, Qatar and Saudi.