Yemen will invite international contractors to bid for build-operate-transfer contracts for its $3.5bn railway network in July this year.

A study by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (Escwa) says that the study of the railroad also involves linking Yemen to the GCC railway network.

The study proposes dividing the project into three stages. Construction on the first stage – a 578-kilometre mineral line – will begin in 2015.

The Belhaf line is the second stage and is 386 kilometres and will follow the Yemeni, Saudi and Omani borders. Construction on this line is scheduled to start in 2017.

The final stage will involve the construction of the Belhaf Shahn line which will be 766 kilometres and is not expected to start until 2021.

In December 2009, Yemen’s ministry of transport said that it had received offers from 36 consultants wanting to work on the project. It is not yet clear which consultants have submitted offers.

The railway will link Yemen’s 22 provinces and will also connect the ports to urban areas and agricultural and fishery production areas.

A source close to the GCC railway network tells MEED that feasibility studies are also underway to incorporate Yemen into the GCC railway network.

The UAE and Oman are currently ahead of the other countries as they have already begun additional studies, the source says.

“Designs are…yet to be finalised because there has only been a feasibility study approved by the GCC,” the source tells MEED.

The first construction contracts for the railway are due to be awarded by December this year, a senior official of the GCC secretariat told media earlier this week.

The railway is expected to cover 2,117 kilometres and will connect Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar.

Each country involved in the $25bn GCC railway network will be responsible for the construction of its own part of the project.