Arab rail network to cost $90bn to deliver

29 October 2013

Priority phase is expected to cost $30bn

The 30,000 kilometre-long railway network planned for the Arab world is expected to cost $90bn to deliver.

“We are talking about a visionary programme, so we are talking about a huge figure of $90bn. The first priority phase of project is $30bn, which includes rolling stock, systems and engineering, and to us that is a reasonable cost,” said Marco Stegher, project manager of the Arab Railway Study, Italferr, speaking at MEED’s Mena Rail & Metro Summit in Abu Dhabi on 29 October.

“The average cost of $4.7m a kilometre is reasonable, considering topographical changes across the area.”

The network will connect the 21 member states of the Arab League.

There are six macro axes that have been identified to connect the region:

  • Maghreb, running along the Mediterranean coast
  • Nile, connecting Egypt
  • Turkey/Red Sea, connecting the Levant
  • Mediterranean/GCC, connecting Gulf states
  • Saudi Arabia, linking east and west coasts of the kingdom
  • Oman/Yemen/Djibouti and Somalia

Italferr is part of the Italian state rail company. In addition to the Arab Railway study it is working on other smaller rail projects across the region.

In August this year, it secured a $24m contract from Saudi Railway Company (SAR) for the design of the Saudi Landbridge railway project. Italferr will be working with a local partner, Arabian Consulting Engineering Centre.

The Italian firm will develop the preliminary designs for both a passenger and freight railway line linking Jeddah on the Red Sea to the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The line will connect into the existing Riyadh-Dammam network. The passenger line will be capable of running at speeds of up to 350 kilometres per hour.

Also in August this year, Oman’s Transport and Communications Ministry has awarded Italferr a $37.3m contract for the consultancy services for the preliminary design of the sultanate’s planned national railway.

The contract award is a major step forward for the railway project, which will cover more than 2,244 km of track and link Oman’s major ports and cities including Muscat, Sohar, Duqm and Salalah.

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