Dubai: Middle East Rail, now in its seventh edition, was opened on Tuesday by Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). The event is the largest of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa region and it has been gaining more relevance as the GCC region rolls out mega plans for connecting the region via a rail grid.
The event’s opening conference was kicked off by Sa’ad Al Muhanadi, chief executive officer of Qatar Rail. Speaking to a full room of industry players, Al Muhanadi described detailed plans and strategies for the company’s new rail projects that will form part of its 2020 rail vision for Qatar.
The projects are there to “ensure an integrated transport model for Qatar,” he said.
As Al Muhanadi described, Qatar Rail will have a four-line metro system; a rail system for trade and passengers; and a light rail system.
These transportation systems will connect Qatar internally, and to the GCC.
Contracts for these projects will be awarded between 2013 and 2014. In April, there will be a worldwide recruiting campaign, Al Muhanadi said.
Later during the conference, Hamad Bin Yousuf, civil and track director of projects at Saudi Railway Company noted that after stopping rail projects in Saudi Arabia in previous years, these are moving ahead now, for both trade and passengers. These projects include a line connecting the North and South of the country, as well as one connecting the eastern side to Jubail, which is an industrial city. He mentioned the importance of the metro project in Makkah, as there are high inflows of pilgrims each year.
The rail projects will bring “connected borders,” Bin Yousuf said.
Meanwhile, different seminars took place simultaneously, covering a range of topics related to rail; from tunnelling systems to the latest rail maintenance technologies.
At a seminar by Maccaferri Middle East, an Italian company that manufactures civil and environmental engineering applications , Romani John Ebrahim talked about constructing and maintaining railway infrastructure.
He highlighted the importance of maintaining tunnels for railways to ensure safety for people within close proximity; managing water, and fire that may enter the tunnel is essential.
Another seminar by Harsco Rail focused on a machine used to help tracks maintain a vertical and lateral alignment using stones. It’s called a Stoneblower, which has a stone supply system that calculates the lift, stew and stone quantity for every tie. The machine helps trains move quickly.
The event will run until Thursday.
Sarah Algethami is a trainee at Gulf News.