Construction work on the GCC railway project could begin by 2010, after completion of a feasibility study in 2008, according to the World Bank, which is advising the GCC Technical committee on the tendering process.With the full support of all GCC states, the plans for a 1,000 kilometre-long line along the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula are being pushed forward. The estimated cost of the project is $2,500 million. ‘If you look at the example of Saudi Arabia, each kilometre of track cost $1 million-2 million,’ says Ramiz al-Assar, senior transport specialist in Saudi Arabia for the World Bank. ‘This would bring a total cost of $2,000 million-2,500 million but this could go up if the line is extended into Yemen, double lines are built and so on.’ A decision on whether to extend the line from Oman into Yemen will be taken at the GCC summit in Qatar in December. Al-Assar says it is likely the extension will be approved. A consortium of three rail and engineering consultancies, France’s Systra, Canarail of Canada, and Lebanese consultant Khatib & Alami, began the feasibility study into the project in September (MEED 14:9:07). However, Al-Assar says there are still serious difficulties with the decision-making process that could hinder the project. ‘The cycle for approving a decision in each country, and then collectively, can be six months to a year,’ he says.