Kuwait’s 400-kilometre national rail project could be tendered ahead of the metro project due to the timeline of the GCC Railway network, a source close to the project tells MEED.

Phase 1 of Kuwait’s mainline rail is to link with the GCC Railway through Nuwaiseeb on the border with Saudi Arabia.

In addition to the pressure to link with the GCC Railway, the national rail will also cost less to build. It has an estimated budget of $2bn, compared to the metro scheme, whose budget is expected to reach around $18.5bn.

The Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects (KAPP) announced in late November that they expect to begin prequalification for both the national rail and metro projects by March 2016. Kuwait’s Supreme Council for Planning and Development had also indicated that they expect construction work on the rail projects to start by 2017.

The long-delayed projects will be procured on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis. The final review and update of the feasibility studies for both schemes are currently underway.

The feasibility study for the national rail was completed in 2011 by a team led by the US’ Booz and Company. A review of the feasibility study has been awarded in August to UK’s EY, who is acting as the lead transaction adviser, along with Trowers & Hamlins, legal adviser, and Arup, technical adviser.

An all-UK team won the advisory contract for the metro scheme in 2010: EY was appointed as lead transaction advisor, along with Atkins who acted as technical adviser and Ashurst who acted as legal adviser.

The project stakeholders do not expect a major difference between the procurement period for these PPP projects compared with a traditional engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract. “It might take a little bit more time, but the difference wouldn’t be significant,” the source tells MEED. The source also confirmed that local and international lenders have shown strong interest in the project.

Project timeline

Year Status
2017 construction due to begin
2016 projected prequalification opening
2015 comment: prequalification announcement
2011 feasibility study completed
2010 advisory contracts awarded