GCC rail project still on the tracks

Systra-Khatib & Alami-Canarail consortium tipped to win contract to carry out a project feasibility study

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By  Angela Giuffrida Published  December 23, 2006

A consortium made up of Systra of France, Lebanon’s Khatib & Alami and Canada’s Canarail is tipped to win the contract to carry out a year-long feasibility study into the GCC-wide rail network plans. The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) pledged to move forward with the ambitious project linking the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman in June, and a consultant for the study is expected to be officially announced by the end of this year, confirmed a spokesperson from Khatib & Alami. “So far, the official information is that our consortium has been the lowest bidder, and we are confident of winning it.” If the Systra-led consortium wins the contract it would have fended off competition from Germany’s DE-Consult, the UK’s WSP Group and Louis Berger and Parsons Brinckerhoff of the US. “We have heard that we are in the starting block. The study will focus on the recommendations for the system, and what will be most appropriate depending on whether it’s used to transport goods or passengers,” said a source close to the project from Systra. The GCC Technical Committee was appointed earlier this year to finalise details of the feasibility study for the project. The study will consider factors including how the network will integrate with the country’s ports as well as assess how it could be financed. One way the system could be funded is through a Public Private Partnership (PPP), although specific legislation for railway construction still needs to be in place for such a scheme to work, according to Horst Draudt, a director at Dornier Consulting, which has been working on a study for an Emirates-wide railway that could link up with the GCC proposals. “The legal framework is still an issue — and I would say a serious one — but the client has to take the next action,” he said.

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