2/02/2012

Call for GCC high-speed rail


ZAWYA
 
Industry experts urge Gulf region to splash the cash on high-speed trains linking all six GCC nations GULF countries should swallow the bumper bill and take on the daunting engineering challenges of developing a regional high-speed rail network, a pair of industry experts have said.
The duo said the economic benefits of such a service will eventually outweigh the headaches of its construction.
Delegates at a briefing on high-speed rail, held  on the eve of a global conference being held in Dubai, heard how Japan-style bullet trains should be embraced by the Gulf - and that the use of modern magnetic 'Maglev' technology means the service might not even need rails.
Alan James, CEO of UK Ultraspeed, a firm trying to convince investors to back a British Maglev line, which could see trains reach speeds of more than 500kph, said a line linking the six nations of the Gulf Co-Operation Council (GCC) would have many benefits.
"It will create an economic super-region, pooling its strength to compete more strongly in the global economy," he said.
Akihiko Nakamura, general manager at the Central Japan Railway Company, which operates its own bullet trains, said that more than half of all journeys of over 500 kilometres in Japan today are made by train.
That compares to the modest number in the UAE currently made on public transport.
Neither man sought to hide the huge cost of  a GCC high-speed network, which would run into billions of dollars and require elevated tracks to carry the trains over desert terrain.
But James said that, after examining the feasibility of a Maglev line between Scottish cities Glasgow and Edinburgh, about an hour's drive apart, he is convinced super-fast trains save governments money as they do not duplicate projects.
"If your two major cities are only 15 minutes apart, you only need one cancer hospital, not two. You only need one airport," he said.
"All of those produce significant savings for the long-term which will more than outweigh the capital costs of constructing it," he said.