Private sector DISinterest in GCC rail goes public, but govts. still keen on 2018 deadline
The Proposed GCC Railway Route (Courtesy of Construction Week Online)
Click here to add Abdul Rahman Al Hatmi as an alert
Disable alert for Abdul Rahman Al Hatmi,
Click here to add Al Ain as an alert
Disable alert for Al Ain,
Click here to add Alexander Cornwell as an alert
Disable alert for Alexander Cornwell,
Click here to add Dubai as an alert
Disable alert for Dubai,
Click here to add Gulf Cooperation Council as an alert
Disable alert for Gulf Cooperation Council,
Click here to add John Lesniewski as an alert
Disable alert for John Lesniewski,
Click here to add Nadhem Bin Taher as an alert
Disable alert for Nadhem Bin Taher,
Click here to add National Transport Authority as an alert
Disable alert for National Transport Authority,
Click here to add Oman National Railway Company as an alert
Disable alert for Oman National Railway Company,
Click here to add Omani Government as an alert
Disable alert for Omani Government
The proposed rail network across Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries could be funded almost entirely by member state governments after failing to attract significant private sector interest, officials close to the matter said on Tuesday.
Nadhem Bin Taher, executive director, Land Transport Sector, National Transport Authority, said private companies were disappointed at the low returns of 7.18 per cent. “But we’re encouraging private investment,” he said.
Bin Taher was speaking at the 8th annual Middle East Rail in Dubai. The two-day event, which started on Tuesday and is the largest rail exhibition and conference in the region, brought together government officials and industry leaders from around the world.
The GCC countries have set a 2018 target to have an operational rail network connecting all six countries from Kuwait to Oman. However, some countries such as Kuwait are only just beginning their feasibility studies of their 511-kilometre rail network share.
John Lesniewski, director of sales and commercial agreements at Etihad Rail, said phase one of the project, which connects Shah and Habshan to the Port of Ruwais, will be operational by the end of 2014.
Phase 2, connecting the Saudi Arabian border to Al Ain and Dubai, will start construction later in the year, he said.
Abdul Rahman Al Hatmi, director of railways at the Oman National Railway Company, said that the Omani government has budgeted costs for the entire railway project. He would not, however, disclose the figure. Despite this assurance, the state-owned Oman National Railway Company is still exploring other methods of financing, including from local and international backers.
Al Hatmi said one possibility is to privatise trains and lease them back or even to privatise entire train lines.
Construction on Oman’s first line, from Sohar to Al Ain, will begin later this year.
Al Hatmi said that tourists and business travellers are expected to use the train; however, the focus for the immediate future is to develop a rail network that supports freight.
Oman’s rail network will extend to the Port of Salahah with the aim that container shipments will be offloaded in Oman and then be transported through the GCC-wide rail network.
By Alexander Cornwell
- Nip, tuck: Dubai's grand plans for being a major player in medical tourism
- Zain, UNHCR, Facebook to bring free internet access to urban refugees in Jordan
- Yemen Central Bank headquarters to relocate from Sanaa to Aden
- IMF report details the crippling economic effects of conflict in MENA
- Start Up Lebanon entrepreneurs head to Silicon Valley Roadshow