All GCC member states approved the Gulf Railway project in 2009 during the 30th GCC summit in Kuwait City.
The construction of the GCC Railway connecting Qatar to neighboring country Saudi Arabia will kick off soon, the country’s Minister of Transport Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti announced.
The 2,177 km Gulf Railway is a proposed railway system connecting all six GCC countries in Eastern Arabia. The project, expected to cost US$250 billion, is scheduled to be completed by 2023. However, due to several financial challenges, the completion date is not yet certain.
Each of the six nations will be responsible for implementing the portion of the project that lies within their territory, whilst also constructing their own railway lines, branch stations and freight terminals.
The overall cost will then be shared by the six countries in accordance with the length of the rail network in the territory. Given their size, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will spend the most on the project, followed by Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
Qatar Rail will develop the network in Qatar, Etihad Rail in the UAE, and Oman Rail in Oman.
As per the network’s distribution, the railway will connect Qatar to Saudi Arabia and will be used to transport goods and passengers from and to both countries within hours, providing an easier and more efficient way of traveling for the community.
The official stated that all necessary groundwork to implement the grand project is completed, including the detailed engineering designs and work plan. Sponsorship offers and bids for the much-awaited railway are expected to go out within this year, he added.
Discussions are still taking place to establish the rules for land transport amongst GCC countries to ‘ease the movement of passengers and goods among them.’
Qatar’s grand transportation plan
Aside from regional transportation, Qatar is currently launching several projects to enhance its local transportation system within the country.
In total, 26 projects are scheduled with 12 set to be completed in time for the World Cup. In the past months, five bus stations have been completed, including Al Sudan, Lusail, Al Wakra, Industrial Area, and Education City.
Msheireb, Al Gharrafa and Central West Bay stations are expected to be completed and fully operational before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in November.
Four bus depots are currently under construction in Al Wakra, the New Industrial Area, Lusail and Al Rayyan, which will be equipped with some 650 electric charging stations. Marine ferries will also be completed and fully operational before the grand tournament.
Authorities in Qatar have been working over the past years to transform the country’s public transportation system to an electric model, including public bus services, government school buses and Doha’s metro.
200 electric vehicle chargers are expected to be installed in public places, headquarters of ministries and government agencies to support the move and ensure convenience.
This move aims to reduce harmful carbon emissions caused by conventional buses in less than a decade from now, in addition to achieving goals of environmental sustainability.
Over the next year, almost 25% of the public transit bus fleet in Qatar is expected to become electric, with a vision that by 2030, most buses and public transportation will have become electric.
By the 2022 World Cup, around 25% of the public transit bus fleet in Qatar will be electric, whilst 75% of the fleet will run on environment-friendly diesel (Euro 5).