A feasibility study into the construction of a rail connection between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain is expected to be awarded in March or April this year and expressions of interest have already been sent out the market.

The railway line will form part of the $15.5bn GCC-wide railway network, which targeted to be operational by 2018. The Saudi-Bahrain connection was originally estimated to cost $4.5bn, but is now predicted to exceed $5bn.

Initial plans envisaged that the connection will be 90 kilometres in length.

The new rail connection between the two countries will help alleviate the pressure on the increasingly congested existing King Fahd causeway.

A combination of traffic congestion and an ineffective customs system currently sees trucks delayed on the existing causeway for weeks. Transferring some of this freight traffic on to a railway network is expected to alleviate these problems.