Feasibility studies for GCC railway project under way

Two international firms will conduct feasibility studies for the proposed multibillion-riyal railway project that would link the six-member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), it was revealed at a recent meeting here of the GCC transport ministers.
Bahraini Minister of Transport Kamal bin Ahmad said the two companies would conduct technical, consultative and engineering studies. He did not specify a timetable for the start of the project.
Bin Ahmad said that Saudi Arabia and Bahrain’s ministries of finance and transport agreed to appoint the General Organization of the King Fahd Causeway as the body to choose the company that would oversee the project.
The Bahraini minister said the technical specifications for the project have been drawn up. In addition, the six Gulf states have been asked to double check the coordinates for the railway lines, junctions and stations, to ensure paying the minimum cost possible and adherence to environmental safety standards.
He said it was unlikely the project would cost $11 billion as estimated by the World Bank. “The costs are much less than what the initial studies indicated.”
Saudi Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry said the six nations were focusing much attention on the project. “There is a big movement and lobbying to implement the decision of the higher council of GCC states to complete the project by 2018,” he said.
Meanwhile, Abdullah bin Jumah Al-Shalabi, assistant secretary general for economic affairs, said in a press release that the meeting also discussed marine transport issues including the safety of small and cargo ships not covered by international naval treaties, and piracy problems off the Somali coast and in the Gulf of Aden.
Meanwhile, construction is progressing on the Bridge of Love (Jisser Al-Mahabah) announced in 1999 between Bahrain and Qatar, the Bahraini minister said.