Bahrain seeks consultants for light rail project

Bahrain will tender for consultants to advise on the construction of a new light rail project by the end of this year.

Mariam Jumaan, the country’s deputy minister for land and transport, told the Mena Rail and Metro Summit this week that once the GCC rail network is established, the kingdom will need alternative forms of public transport to its existing bus network.

“There have been studies carried out in Bahrain previously. We’re updating those now and looking at alternative methods of transport like light rail,” she said. “Bahrain is very small, so I don’t think we’re looking at metro or even a tram because the country is so small there are no rights of way. We’re going to tender – hopefully before the end of the year – on consultancy services to revisit those old studies and look at options.”

Ms Jumaan also called for studies into the establishment of a GCC-wide procurement strategy and supply chain network before the most significant elements of the project get under way.

For instance, she said that more than 21,000 kilometres of rail, 22 million cubic metres of ballast and 40 million rail sleepers are needed, alongside all of the plant, consultancy services, contractors and operational training for up to 80,000 staff.

“If we do not proactively manage these requirements and make sure the resources are available, we will find that the GCC member states are competing within themselves for the same resources, skills and requirements. That will mean you’re competing for very limited resources, creating an inflation in costs.”

Andreas Kopp, lead economist at the World Bank’s department of transport, water and ICT, said that the cooperation that has already taken place among GCC member states on areas such as interopability and ensuring each country’s systems will work together is admirable.

“The world can learn from the complex and impressive progress that has been made here on this GCC project. We have tried in many other regional contexts to get governments to coordinate on railway projects because it’s enormously important. We’ve never had as much success as you report here.”

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