Gulf Council’s rail scheme running two years behind schedule and $10bn over budget

The Gulf Co-operation Council’s project to link its member states, from Oman to Kuwait, is now two years behind schedule and will not be completed until 2020, according to the minister of public works of the United Arab Emirate (UAE). 

Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi  said the UAE and Saudi Arabia were on track to meet the original deadline of 2018, but that connections to other GCC countries would probably not happen until 2020. "Although 2018 has been set as the deadline for the GCC rail to take shape, the UAE is steps ahead of the timetable," he told Dubai’s Khaleej Times.  

He added: "The total cost of the GCC rail system stands at $20bn. However, the expenses are expected to jump to around $30bn." 

Dr Nuaimi said the first of the three-phases of Etihad Rail, the section that crosses the UAE, had been completed and the $190m budget for the 600km second phase has been allocated by the federal authorities. This will connect the first phase lines to international borders.

When complete, the rail system will cover about 2,100km. Passenger trains on the system will run at 200kmh, and the trains will not stop at national borders. Instead, the rail stations will act like airports, with all security clearances carried out on departure and arrival.

Photograh: The UAE’s section of the rail line is due to be completed on time (Etihad Rail)

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