Mena rail network set to double

The Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region is currently one of the world’s fastest growing markets for rail with over $156 billion worth projects planned or under way in the region, a senior official at Bechtel said.

Mena region’s mainline rail network is set to almost double in size over the coming decades, while metro, tram and monorail track lengths will increase tenfold, said Dr Amjad Bangash, managing director, Rail at Bechtel, one of the world’s leading engineering, procurement and construction companies.

The planned projects will provide 34,000 km of rail tracks, covering a landmass of 15 million sq km, he said.

Saudi Arabia has the most projects planned or under way in the Arab region, at an estimated cost of $31 billion. Other markets with more than $10 billion of projects are the UAE and Kuwait with $14 billion worth of projects each and Qatar and Iraq with $13 billion worth of projects each.

Growth in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) rail market will be the main driver of the sector’s growth internationally, said Dr Bangash.

Despite the global economic downturn, multi-billion dollar mega-projects planned or under construction in the GCC are propelling this momentum of growth which, according to a recent report by UNIFE (European Rail Industry), will continue until 2018. In the last three years, the sector grew by 9.6 per cent internationally and is expected to continue on the same trajectory until 2018, with a further growth of 16.2 per cent, mainly driven by rail projects in the GCC states, he said.

- TradeArabia News Service , Oct 23 2012