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Sun 30 Sep 2012 12:38 PM

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Bahrain’s rail masterplan to be finalised by year-end

Work on Qatar-Bahrain causeway is ongoing, airport expansion to begin next year - transport minister

Bahrain’s rail masterplan to be finalised by year-end
Bahrain is aiming to complete its rail masterplan by the end of this year, in line with the estimated US$149bn that is being spent by the Gulf countries as they build up new transport networks.

Bahrain is aiming to complete its rail masterplan by the end of this year, in line with the estimated US$149bn that is being spent by Gulf countries as they build up new transport networks.

“In Bahrain, we are reviewing the alignment of the train network, because the idea is to link Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and we also want to link it to the port and the airport,” Bahrain’s Minister of Transportation, Kamal Ahmed, told Arabian Business.

“We need to decide the exact alignments – the most feasible and cost-effective approach. We will finalise this by the end of the year, and then we will work with our brothers in Saudi Arabia to see what is the best procurement method to finance this project.

“Maybe by the first or second quarter of next year, we’ll have a more solid plan about a timeline for implementation.”

Earlier this year, it was reported that a number of international companies had expressed interest in the 90 km rail link that will connect Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which is estimated to cost US$4.5bn.

In Bahrain itself, the rail network is expected to include a Dubai-style metro system.

Ahmed also indicated that plans for the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway – which will carry a dual carriageway road and twin rail track between the two countries – were still being discussed. The minister did not give a timeframe for completion, other than to say that the causeway would need to be finished before the World Cup is held in Qatar in 2022.

“Meetings are being conducted as usual; there are so many committees, financial and technical, and it is not an easy project,” he said. “Plans keep changing, and designs, obviously, but it’s going on. It has to be completed before the World Cup.”

The minister also said that work on the expansion of Bahrain International Airport was planned to begin next year.

“It’s an important one for us,” he said. “We are finalising the timeline of the expansion. There will be expansion of the existing airport, as well as refurbishment of existing facilities. Phase one has started, and the second one will start soon.

“We are just finalising the finishing touches with Bahrain Airports Company, and shortly we will finalise with the Ministry of Finance the funds required to finance the expansion. Our objective is to start early next year.”    

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