World Economy

Mideast Experiencing Unprecedented Railway Boom

Mideast Experiencing Unprecedented Railway BoomMideast Experiencing Unprecedented Railway Boom

The Mena region is experiencing an unprecedented spate of rail investment. From Africa’s first high-speed rail network in Morocco to Oman’s first ever rail scheme, billions of dollars are being invested in rail and metro projects for the first time.

Today every country has announced rail or metro plans and in total there are more than $200b worth of rail and metro projects either planned or under way in the Middle East. This translates to more than 33,700km of mainline routes and 3,000km of new metro lines Business Intelligence Mideast reported Monday.

The award of major metro and rail contracts in the Middle East has made the region among the most important sources of new work for all those designing, building, supplying and operating railways.

“The Middle East is perhaps the fastest growing market for rail and transit in the world,” says Cosema Crawford, senior vice president and rail and transit global practice leader at Louis Berger. “Cities are growing and mobility is increasing, driving the need for robust public transportation networks.”

“High-speed rail networks are being built in great numbers, particularly in China which now boasts about half of the world’s systems,” adds Crawford, who will be speaking at the 10th annual MEED MENA Rail & Metro Summit which opens in Dubai next month. “An increasing number of system suppliers have entered the market, which should help stabilize pricing.”

More than 250 delegates and guests are expected to attend the conference scheduled on the 20th-22nd October at The Conrad Hotel in Dubai with global experts providing tactical insights on challenges and opportunities confronting the metro and rail sector across the region.  Among those who have confirmed include World Bank resident adviser to the (P)GCC on railway projects Ramiz al-Assar.

High-speed rail, seen in the Middle East as an innovation, has an extensive history. Confidence is now growing in its capacity to reach new levels of performance and speed.

The (P)GCC’s first high-speed railway is the 450km Haramain High Speed Rail project that links Jeddah with Rabigh, Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. It is scheduled to open in 2015 and will break the mould for the Middle East. Also due to open the same year is the Morocco’s TGV network from Tangiers to Casablanca, which will be the first high-speed rail technology to be employed on the African continent.