Etihad Rail Company is due to make a decision on the financing of the $11bn UAE federal railway in the near future.

“We have done a lot of work and made progress. In the relatively near future we will make some decisions,” says Richard Bowker, chief executive of Etihad Rail Company.

In September, Swiss bank UBS was appointed to provide financial advice in developing a funding plan for the construction and operation of the railway (MEED 6:9:10).

Bowker confirmed that a high-speed rail line between Abu Dhabi and Dubai remains part of its long-term plan for the UAE.

“What we said was that our priority is on the 1,200-kilometre mixed-traffic network,” says Bowker. Initial feasibility studies showed that there is a strong demand for a high-speed passenger line.

Aside from Abu Dhabi, rail and metro projects are under way in the Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait, Iran, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt and Iraq.

The value of rail projects in the GCC alone stands at more than $80bn.

In Dubai, the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA), says it aims to increase the use of public transport from 6 per cent in 2005 to 30 per cent by 2025. It will do this through the completion of Dubai metro and the Al-Sufouh tram network. Mattar al-Tayer, chairman and executive director of the RTA, says that investment in public transport systems in the Middle East “won’t be less than $80bn in the next 10 years”.