Baharain plans to invest a total of $10 billion on a railway line connecting to the GCC rail network and a second causeway linking the country with Saudi Arabia.
A feasibility study being conducted by Canadian engineering consultancy SNC Lavalin on the construction of the King Hamad Causeway, which will include the rail link, is nearing completion.
Two routes have been proposed for the 87-km rail link that will connect two stations on either side of the water, and Bahrain’s station would be built on reclaimed land north of the existing King Fahad Causeway.
“Preliminary studies are looking at possible landing points for the rail link into Bahrain, and it will likely be the newly-reclaimed area west of Madinat Shamaliya,” said Maryam Jam’an, Transportation and Telecommunications Ministry under-secretary for land transport.
“The landing point will have an international multi-modal freight yard, with container and bulk material loading and unloading facility.
“It will be integrated with our new bus network as well as a proposed light rail network,” said Jam’an last month at the Bahrain Infrastructure and Finance Forum organised by UAE-based MEED Media at the Bahrain Conference Centre in Crowne Plaza Hotel.
She said, during a presentation, that the railway project was estimated to cost $5 billion and the King Hamad Causeway would cost another $5 billion.
Based on preliminary studies, the rail link will comprise 28 km of approach tracks, a 26-km causeway and a 10-km bridge.
Trains will travel at up to 120 kmph and the feasibility study estimates that it could carry up to 143,000 containers in the first year of operation, rising to 343,000 in 2030 and 602,000 by 2050.
“We have identified the things that Bahrain needs to do and how we need to do them to make the project happen,” said Jam’an.
“The evaluations include determining potential alignments as well as economic feasibility to provide estimates on construction costs.”
Bids will be launched for the design stage of the project, which is scheduled for completion by 2022, after the feasibility study is concluded.
The next stage of bids for the rail link will be submitted next month (June) with the tender award expected in November.
Construction is expected to take five to six years with a provisional opening date of 2022, added Jam’an.
Bahrain’s rail project will feature connections with the Khalifa Bin Salman Port, Bahrain International Airport, and a cross-country link with the proposed causeway to Qatar.
The 2,177-km-long GCC rail network, costing $200 billion, will connect all six Gulf states by rail for the first time.
It will start from Kuwait and via Dammam in Saudi Arabia connect to Bahrain through the new causeway parallel to the existing King Fahad Causeway.
It will also run from Dammam to Qatar through Salwa and is expected to link Qatar with Bahrain via the proposed Qatar-Bahrain Causeway. According to Jam’an, studies so far have shown that the grid will help reduce pressure on transportation in the region due to an increase in population and enhanced trade co-operation among Gulf countries.