GCC rail projects 'worth $194bn'
Abu Dhabi, October 31, 2013
Railway construction projects worth $194 billion are currently planned or underway in the GCC and is set to transform life and work in the region in the next decade, said a report.
About $30 billion of major rail project contracts had been awarded in the region this year our of a total project contract award of $108 billion across all sectors making rail the biggest segment of the regions capital projects market, said Meed, a business intelligence service, at the Mena Rail and Metro Summit 2013, which concluded yesterday (October 30) in Abu Dhabi.
“This year has seen a turning point in the regional rail market,” said Meed editorial director Richard Thompson. “Over the past 10 months, we have seen the region’s ambitions to build metro systems and main line rail networks with more than $30 billion-worth of rail construction contracts awarded so far.”
The single biggest investment this year saw $22 billion-worth of construction contracts awarded in June on Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh Metro.
“The success of this project so far is likely to act as a catalyst for further metro schemes in the kingdom,” said Thompson.
The key projects discussed at the summit included the Riyadh Metro project, the Etihad Rail, Doha Metro and plans for an integrated GCC rail network.
The rail boom also raises challenges for the region, particularly around skills shortages and supply chain bottlenecks.
“Everybody will be competing for the same resources,” said Thompson. “And there is a real risk of unnecessary delays and cost escalation unless people manage the situation effectively. A coordinated approach is required.”
Driving this growth is the eagerness of the GCC member countries to diversify their economy away from oil and gas earnings, as well as the anticipation of urban mobility challenges that usually accompany growth of domestic markets, he said.
Many projects involving the establishment of new ports, airports and surrounding logistics zones will also require an integrated rail network to support growth aspirations among GCC states.
Thompson further says that several new projects were launched or re-launched in 2013, with major rail schemes announced in Oman and Qatar. The UAE’s Etihad Rail is leading the way in terms of overland rail projects, with the first phase of its railway network nearing completion while phase 2 construction contracts should be awarded before the end of the year, further boosting the total value of contract awards this year.
Oman Rail is looking to prequalify contractors for rail projects before the end of the year, while Saudi is looking to develop metro and light rail networks in Makkah, Madinah and Dammam in the coming year. Metro Jeddah Company announced at the summit that the Jeddah Metro will likely be awarded in the first half of 2015.
Outside the GCC, Iraq has planned for an elevated metro in Baghdad and depending on the political situation in North Africa, there should be further opportunities to win rail deals across the region, said Thompson.
In North Africa, tram systems are being built, expanded and integrated into the public transport networks of major cities. The plan to build a high-speed railway between Tangier and Casablanca is also progressing.
Gathering rail and metro experts from around the world, the summit featured a comprehensive review of the $225 billion opportunities in the sector for local and international stakeholders and hosted over 350 attendees. - TradeArabia News Service
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