World Bank will provide technical support to GCC Mega rail project.

The mega rail project connecting GCC countries will be provided technical assistance by the World Bank.The bank, however, does not have any proposal to back the project financially. This information came out during the inauguration of the Oman Land Transport Infrastructure conference on Sunday.

World Bank Resident Adviser for Gulf Cooperation Council Secretariat General (GCC-SG) Ramiz Al Assar said it would be for the national governments to finance the project. They may consider the build-operate-transfer (BOT) and public-private partnership (PPP) modes for the project, he suggested.

It would be for the governments to go in for procurement of rolling stock and then involve private players in the construction.Al Assar said similar projects elsewhere are providing land connectivity among countries crossing regional frontiers. They are even looking at connecting continents through building corridors. For this project, linking Africa could be an option, he added. There had to be a uniform operational regulation across the region.

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On the issue of pricing, Al Assar felt that it was to be left to the market and as support to passengers, the governments could look at cross-subsidy.Despite going way ahead on the concept of sustainable integrated multi-modal transportation, there were still some challenges like identifying the networks, deciding whether to go for diesel-powered engines or those run on electricity and border crossing.

Al Asala Engineering and Contracting LLC chairman Salman Rashid Al Fennah Al Araimi favoured nations inviting firms to take up manufacturing within the country. “For Oman, this will not only generate employment but will also contribute to the overall development,” he added.

The meeting chaired by Switzerland-based Rail Working Group chairman Howard Rosen had experts speak on rail initiatives in Qatar, construction and maintenance of lines in arid regions.

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