Value of MENA rail projects to soar amid network expansion

The value of rail contracts awarded throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) reached $434 million in the first quarter of 2013, roughly 17 percent of the total $2.55 billion awarded in the transport sector overall.
The value is likely to increase further this year as contracts for plans to build more than 33,712 km of mainline routes and over 3,000 km of monorail and tram are expected to be awarded in the second half of the year.
“These developments make the region one of the world’s fastest growing markets for rail projects, driven by population growth, economic development, growing urbanization and ever-increasing traffic congestion throughout the region,” said Edmund O’ Sullivan, Chairman, MEED Events, organizers of the MENA Rail and Metro Summit scheduled to take place on Oct. 28-30, 2013 at the Beach Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
Now on its ninth year, MENA Rail and Metro Summit 2013 will present a definitive review of the rail projects that are currently ongoing as well as those still in the pipeline. It will provide key stakeholders invaluable insights on project delivery and operations, as well as advanced engineering solutions and technical best practices that will be critical to the development and execution of rail projects throughout the region.
The agenda includes a comprehensive review of rail projects in North Africa, including recent contracts covering the extension of the tram system in Algiers; the selection of firms for signaling packages on Egypt’s national railway network; and the awarding of contracts in Tunisia’s railways that will connect the capital to its surrounding suburbs.
In Saudi Arabia, three consortiums have so far been shortlisted by the Arriyadh Development Authority to deliver Riyadh’s new light-rail metro system, which will by far be the most advanced out of all the current metro developments in the Kingdom. Once the packages are awarded, the project will encourage other cities to ramp up efforts to build their own light -rail networks. Formal awards are expected in mid-July.
Elsewhere in the Kingdom, the Makkah Mass Rail Transit Company (MMRTC) has invited consultants, manufacturers and rolling stock suppliers to a series of talks outlining plans for a network of metro and bus lines in Makkah. Consultants have been vying to win the PMO consultancy contract since submitting bids earlier this year with a decision on contract awards expected to be announced also this month.
Meanwhile, consultants are preparing bids for a feasibility study into a railway line linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Initial plans envisaged that the connection will be 90 kilometers in length and is estimated to cost about $5 billion. Bahrain’s government is aiming to have the feasibility studies completed by the end of this year.
The new railway will help alleviate increasing congestion on the existing King Fahd Causeway linking the two countries. During key holiday periods, traffic on the causeway can reach 45,000 cars a day. The railway line will form part of the $15.5 billion GCC-wide railway network.
“The magnitude of rail developments in the region has elicited so much interest which is why the MENA Rail and Metro Summit is a must-attend event for those interested in gaining a complete understanding of the opportunities and challenges in the rail sector in the region,” O’Sullivan added.
The summit will be addressed by high-level government decision-makers and operators who share their plans for building the region’s biggest rail and metro projects. These include Ibrahim Al Sabti, Director of Transportation Department, The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf-General Secretariat (KSA); Abderrahmène Gamha, President and Chief Executive Officer, Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Tunisiens (Tunisia); Engr.
Ibrahim K. Kutubkhanah, Chief Executive Officer, Metro Jeddah Company (KSA); Aomar Hadbi, Director General, Enterprise Metro d’Alger (Algeria); Draess Yousses, Director General, Casablanca Transports en Site Amenage (Morocco); Dr. Abdullah Malkawi Abdallah, Deputy to Director General, Jordan Hejaz Railway (Jordan); and Engr. Ramadan Abdullah Mohammed, Director of Rail Operations Department – Rail Agency, Roads and Transport Authority (UAE).