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$200bn to be invested in GCC rail project

More than $200 billion will be invested in the GCC rail project. (Supplied)

By Wam

More than $200 billion will be invested in the GCC rail project, according to the Omani Minister of Transport and Communications.

"Over $200 billion will be invested in over 40,000km of rail across the GCC. This provides a good environment to attract companies, manufactures, human resources and capital to the region," said Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Salim Al Futaisi, opening the GCC Rail and Metro Conference 2015 in Muscat on Sunday.

More than 500 representatives from 25 countries will be present at the two-day conference.

"Our challenge will not just be in how to ensure the success of executing these projects from a technical and operational point of view, but on how to exploit the socio-economic potential of these massive investments so to ensure the multiplier effect into our economies," the minister added.

Speaking at the conference, Faris Saif Al Mazrouei, Acting CEO, Etihad Rail, said, "The market will get an extra sector in which to expand, providing opportunities for both the public and private sector.

"We are currently in stage one of testing and commissioning – things are moving ahead as planned."

"The GCC rail project is one of a kind, ambitious and complex in nature," said Dr. Ramiz Al Assar, Resident World Bank Adviser, GCC for the Arab states of the Gulf. "It will link six member states as a regional transport corridor, further integrating with the national railway projects, deepening economic social and political integration, and it is developed from a sustainable perspective."

Dr. Rumaih M. Al Rumaih, CEO of Saudi Arabian Railways (SAR), said, "SAR is building a massive network of 5,000km. Already 1,400km is operational, with the ability to transport phosphate and bauxite from mines to the manufacturing facilities at the port in Ras Al Khair. Since the line became operational, we have transported more than 6.5 million tons of phosphate. The benefits of using the railway are tangible – we’ve saved 70 per cent of the fuel that would have otherwise been consumed by trucks."

He added that the impact on the environment is huge – there will be an estimated 50 per cent reduction of CO2 by using trains to transport goods.