By Andy Sambidge
Senior official says formation of Gulf-wide railway authority also in the offing.
Contracts for a multi-billion dollar GCC rail project are set to be awarded by the end of this year with the project fully operational by as early as 2016, it was reported on Monday.
The rail plan, which could cost up to $25bn, has been declared financially feasible by all member states, according to Dr Ramiz Al Assar, senior chief representative, GCC Secretariat General.
"We plan to award the contracts at the end of this year or very early next year," Al Assar, also senior transport specialist at the World Bank, said in comments published by Emirates Business.
"We will go through the international competitive bidding process, long list consulting firms, then do some prequalification and short listing. The dates are tentative but we hope to award in the shortest period."
The GCC Secretary General office is now long listing consulting firms for the detailed engineering design and is expected to finalise the request for proposal and terms of reference next month, the paper reported.
Short-listing is scheduled for November with the contracts being awarded in December.
The GCC Secretariat General office will also study the formation of a GCC railway authority and is planning to award contracts related to this in July, the paper added.
Al Assar said the project was "too big" to be awarded to one consultant or one contractor.
"It is important to look how to integrate several consultants working in the member states during the design and also when the project goes into construction," he told the paper.
The rail has a total length of 2,177km with Saudi Arabia (695km) and the UAE (684km) having the longest lines.
Officials say the project is currently estimated at $15.5bn if diesel is used but costs could reach $25bn for an electricity option.