BAHRAIN’S metro project is gathering steam as experts later this year will look at ways to build a well-connected, world-class national rail network in the kingdom.
Around 250 professionals from all over the world are expected to attend the Bahrain Rail Congress 2019 that will be held on August 7 and 8 at the Hotel Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea and Spa.
Government representatives, ministries, industry experts, technology leaders and global rail innovators will take part in the event, being held under the theme ‘Designing and Developing a Well Connected World Class National Rail Network in Bahrain’.
The GDN reported in April that the Bahrain Metro Network, costing between $1 billion and $2bn, will cover a total area of 109km, with electric driverless trains capable of carrying 43,000 passengers per hour from more than 20 stations spread across the country.
Expected to be operational by 2023 the project is on track to boost infrastructure, develop smart transport and increase investment opportunities.
Announcing the congress, the Urban Transport News publication comes as cities face major urbanisation and congestion challenges, digitalisation, automation and shared mobility which is rapidly changing the landscape.
“At the congress, participants will explore how to create successful collaborations between public and private sectors and the ways to fully leverage the modernisation opportunities.” it said.
“It will include a series of local and international keynote presentations, panel discussions, local and international case studies, interviews, demos, innovations and roundtable discussions.”
Welcoming the news, Northern Municipal Council chairman Ahmed Al Kooheji said the railway will help introduce reliable, environmental-friendly and cost-saving transportation.
“Bahrain has an excellent bus service, but a limited number of stations and lack of punctuality is encouraging people to shift from using their own vehicles to shared transportation,” he said.
“Honestly, if I was not overloaded with meetings during the day that require moving fast, I would have used the bus.
“Having confidence in a strong platform for public transport would certainly benefit the shift from bus to railway as in general public services are much reliable, environmental-friendly and cost-saving transportation and with new advancements associated with railway, things are looking bright.”
He said new proper bus stations need to be built before being used for dual purposes when railway is introduced and buses are possibly phased out.
“There are bus stops in Bahrain that can’t be described as stations and it is time that proper stations are built as we shift to rail,” said Mr Al Kooheji.
“The stations should have proper shopping, cafés and restaurants, besides vital services for passengers using the bus now or railway in future,” he added.
“We are looking for proper railway infrastructure that is able to match others in the GCC if not better; it is not a matter of competition on the availability of services, but our ability to attract direct investments to the country in the transportation field or other industries that may opt to open in the region.
“Hopefully, the congress will speed things up at a time when financing projects is difficult amongst several priorities.”
Global experts invited for the event include Metro Istanbul project director Mehmet Ali Dagli, Control System Cyber Security Association International president Mohamed Yousef and Alliance of Passenger Rail secretary-general Nick Brooks.
Other speakers include Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry infrastructure advisor Loay Ghazaleh, Kolkata Rail Corporation signalling chief engineer Sanjay Kumar and Terna S A overseas business executive director Stathis Natsis.
Bahrain’s nationwide monorail network was first proposed and approved by the Cabinet in 2008, but stalled shortly afterwards due to the global financial crisis.
On October 6, 2015 new bids for the construction of the light rail network were invited by the Tender Board, as part of Bahrain’s section of a pan-Gulf railway.
The GCC Railway, which is on track to be operational by the end of 2023, will connect a cargo station in the Khalifa Bin Salman Port in Hidd and a passenger terminal in Salmabad to a train station in Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain’s section of the railway project, from the station in Hidd to the station in Saudi, will extend 75km, including the upcoming 25km King Hamad Causeway.
The causeway, which is set to begin next year, will cost $4bn and include four lanes for vehicles and two lanes for the railway.