Engineers in the Middle East are eyeing up $88bn (£55bn) of rail projects set to be built in the region in the next 10 years.
The glut of projects is largely being driven by the desire of countries in the region to emulate the success of the Dubai Metro, which carried a record 600,000 passengers on New Year’s Eve - a three-fold increase on the daily average.
Saudi Arabia has plans for £16bn of rail work, Qatar £14bn, the United Arab Emirates £13bn, Kuwait £6bn and Oman £5bn.
“These countries have realised that they have got to look at metros if they want to compete. They have got to find ways of moving people around,” said Atkins Middle East rail managing director Julian Hill, who has totted up the investment plans.
“These are real numbers that I have verified,” he added.
“The opportunities here are phenomenal.”
Saudi Arabia is leading the charge for light rail, with metros in Riyadh, Mecca and Jeddah all at various stages of procurement.
“Riyadh, Mecca and Jeddah all want metro stations,” said Hill. “And the demand is growing day by day. It’s an area that really does need metros.”
In Riyadh, proposals for the first three lines of a six line system are currently out to tender with design and build contractors. Four train manufacturer-led consortiums are bidding.
Plans in Jeddah are at an earlier stage, but in Mecca procurement of a project manager to run construction of its second line is already underway.
Elsewhere, Qatar is poised to award five massive civils packages for the first phase of the Doha Metro (NCE 18 October 2012). Projects in Kuwait and Oman are at advanced stages of planning.
Major heavy rail schemes are also up for grabs, led by the £6.8bn 1,200km pan-emirate Etihad Rail project. The project is being developed to ferry valuable materials mined deep inland to ports in the emirates. Phase one is already under construction.