DAMMAM: SAEED AL-ASMARI
Published — Tuesday 26 February 2013
Last update 26 February 2013 3:06 am
A team of experts from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain recently held talks in Manama to discuss the feasibility of a rail link between the two neighbors separated by the Arabian Sea.
At the meeting, the participants decided to conduct a study. The idea is to build a rail link to run parallel to the King Fahd Causeway that connects Alkhobar with Manama.
Members of the causeway authorities on both sides attended the meeting.
Representatives of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as well as private sector companies joined them in the all-important deliberations.
The proposal to build the rail link is expected to cost around $ 4.2 billion.
Among the key issues explored was a build-operate-transfer option, which would involve the project becoming a private sector undertaking and supervised by the government.
Private sector companies are expected to form a consortium to give them the capability to take on such a large project.
Discussions will conclude with recommendations, an action plan and resolutions for decision-makers in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to mandate the way forward. One of the participants said the railways had helped advance economic development in Europe, the Americas and the Far East and the Gulf would be no different.
“Instead of taking a plane, you can take the train and it is probably faster because you don’t have to check into the airport or take time through arrivals,” he said.
“When we want to travel on King Fahd Causeway and it is congested, the train will pass through much quicker,” he said.
The feasibility report is expected to be finalized by the end of 2014.