Consultants working on the feasibility study for the GCC railway project have given the GCC Secretariat options for new routes in Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Oman.

The proposed routes will not delay the project as the GCC approved the feasibility study in the summer and it does not have to make a decision on the final route until a detailed design study is completed and the project moves into construction.

“The study was given to the secretariat and then approved but the decision on alignment [route] will be later,” says David Lupton, principal, David Lupton & Associates, which is working on the feasibility study at the MEED Middle East Rail Projects 2009 conference.

The new alternatives proposed in the feasibility study were not included in the preliminary route that was prepared by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (Escwa) in 2004 (MEED 14:11:08).

The most significant change is the inclusion of an option to build a railway onto the island on Bahrain – the Escwa proposal did not include a rail link to the kingdom. Two options have been put forward. The first is a through line running onto Bahrain from Damam and then onto Qatar across the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway. The second is one link from Qatar across the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway.

In the UAE the options involve the connection to the port of Sohar in Oman. The Escwa proposal involved a link running down from Fujairah on the eastern coast of the UAE, but the feasibility study also includes an option for a line running to Sohar through Al-Ain in Abu Dhabi emirate.

For Oman the feasibility study includes an extension to the network running from Muscat to the border with Yemen has been proposed. The consultancy team has proposed two options. The first is an inland route. The second is a coastal line that will run through the port of Duqm.

The consultancy team that prepared the feasibility study is made up of France’s Systra, Lebanon’s Khatib & Alami, Canada’s Canarail, and Axcelcium, also of France. David Lupton & Associates is working for Systra.