Manama: Kamal Bin Ahmad, Bahrain’s Minister of Transport, has announced that Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have assigned five firms to study the construction of a railway bridge parallel to the King Fahd Causeway.

The Bahrain News Agency (BNA) quoted the minister as saying that the project will be linked to internal networks in both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and then connect to the projected causeway, which will link Bahrain with Qatar.

The rail project study is part of the 2,177km GCC rail link, which will run from Kuwait to Dammam, to Bahrain via the causeway, and then to Qatar across a new causeway to be established between the two countries.

There is to be an additional branch line between Dammam and Qatar via Salwa, while the main line from Dammam will continue to the UAE through the Batha crossing point heading to Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and then to Oman via Sohar, terminating at Muscat.

He added that preliminary studies indicate the project cost to be about $10 billion (Dh36.7 billion) and that GCC leaders have projected the year 2018 as the completion date.

He said that the Gulf states have already approved technical specifications to connect the six Gulf countries and they are currently conducting technical meetings to develop a legal framework for the establishment of the Gulf links.

Construction of the railway infrastructure will be carried out in accordance with the highest international standards, and will be designed to allow rolling stock to travel at speeds in excess of 200km/h.

The Transport Minister called on all parties to expedite the implementation of the project in order to take advantage of its contribution to strengthening integration, the economy and aspects of the socio-economic and political relations between all of the Gulf states.

In his statement, the Minister also addressed the issue of current obstacles to shipping goods between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain by road, saying that his country is seeking cooperation with Saudi authorities to develop procedures and systems for transporting goods across the King Fahd Causeway in order to reduce the accumulation of trucks and provide space for the storage of goods.