BAHRAIN: The government expects to call bids in June for detailed design of a rail link to Saudi Arabia, as part of the proposed GCC rail network.

The 87 km line would be built in conjunction with a second causeway connecting the two countries, to be known as the King Hamad Causeway. SNC Lavalin is currently undertaking a feasibility study for this causeway, which is expected to be published shortly. The rail link would include a 26 km section on the causeway, a 10 km bridge and 28 km of approach tracks.

Speaking at the Bahrain Infrastructure & Finance Forum at the end of April, Undersecretary for Land Transport Maryam Jam’an said two routes had been identified for the rail link, together with a preferred site for the rail terminal on reclaimed land west of Madinat Shamaliya, north of the existing King Fahad Causeway. This would include a multimodal freight yard and the rail link is projected to handle 143 000 containers in the first year of operation, rising to 343 000 in 2030 and 602 000 by 2050.

With trains operating at up to 120 km/h, the railway would include connections with the Khalifa Bin Salman Port, Bahrain International Airport, the proposed causeway to Qatar and the proposed Bahrain light rail network.

The railway project is estimated to cost US$5bn, with a further US$5bn for the new causeway. With the design contract expected to be awarded in November, the government anticipates that construction would take five to six years; the earliest date for completion would be around 2022.