Regional News

$300bn rail boom under way in Mena

November 2014

Rail and metro projects worth a total of $300 billion are under way or being planned in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, said an expert.

Saudi Arabia has the largest rail project pipeline in the region with over $100 billion, including the Riyadh-Dammam High-Speed Rail, which is currently under study, along with the Eastern Province Municipality – Dammam Metro, revealed Meed Projects’ director of analysis Ed James while speaking at the annual Meed Mena Rail and  Metro Summit last month.

Qatar boasts a rail and metro project pipeline valued at $40 billion, followed by the UAE with $30 billion. Across the region, the other big investments will be seen in Egypt, Iran, Kuwait and Oman, said the expert.

“A lot of the projects in the region are aiming for completion in the period to 2022,” remarked Fluor (UAE) programme manager Dago Beek. “2020 is a huge challenge whether it is for projects or rolling stock,” he added.

According to him, a key technical challenge was dealing with sand dunes drifting across the alignment of railways passing through deserts. “There is no one solution to this challenge.”

A possible technical solution brought forward at the summit was the use of viaducts of about 3 m in height upon which railways would run.

Fluor Corporation and Parsons Brinckerhoff is the project manager on the $7-billion Saudi Landbridge rail project which will connect Jeddah with Riyadh and the Saudi capital with the Gulf coast.

Beek said the final full alignment of the project is not yet fixed, but it will include a stretch from Jeddah to the Riyadh area. The possible alignment of a link between Riyadh and the Gulf coast is now under review.

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