Crossing Arabia

Muscat-Abu Dhabi-Doha-Riyadh-Manama-Tehran could be a future train itinerary after a report in Bahrain indicated plans for a radical regional rail network.

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By  John Irish Published  May 27, 2003

The Gulf’s travelling public could see an alternative to air transport after the Manama-based Bahrain Tribune today (May 28) reported that senior regional ministers and officials were holding talks in Bahrain’s capital on the possibility of creating a new rail network.

The meeting was also attended by a German delegation from IABG, a German services and consultancy firm specialised in building magnetic trains.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Bahrain's Prime Minister stressed that he considered the project as vital for easing transport and movement within the GCC, while also strengthening solidarity between GCC states.

The network, named the Gulf Magno Express, would extend from Saudi Arabia to Oman and Iran, comprising, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE. According to the newspaper, initial costs could range between US $360-$450 million for a single track using a magnetic speed train that could reach 500km per hour. The first service would link Dammam, Manama and Doha.

Dr Rudolph Schwarz, chairman of IABG suggested that his firm anticipated working with Bahraini investors to carry out the project.

Experts estimate the project’s costs would be covered over 8 years, with annual returns estimated at 20%.

The last significant train venture in the Gulf was the Ottoman Hijaz railway, which linked Saudi Arabia to the southern Jordanian city of Maan. Although the link between the Hashemite Kingdom and Syria was re-established in 1998, the network to the Gulf has not functioned since World War I.

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