Bahrain to launch international bid for metro project
The government of Bahrain is issuing tenders for the first metro railway project in the Kingdom. According to government sources, this ambitious project should launch in the fourth quarter of 2019. The Kingdom is seeking private partners to finance this public transportation initiative that might cost up to $2 billion.
Bahrain will be the fourth country in the region to develop its own railway system following in the footsteps of Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia that have all equipped their capitals with modern public transportation services. The Bahrain Metro, or Bahrain Urban Transit Network, will have driverless trains and cover an area of 109 kms that will be built in four stages over a four year period. The first phase of this project will assemble 30km of elevated track and 20 stations. Eventually, the Network will be comprised of six lines that will be completed by 2030.
A capacity to transport 43,000 passengers
Traffic has been an issue for many years in Bahrain with car ownership jumping 52% in the past decade. Despite the Bahraini government road expansion initiative, the problem has remained. The new Bahrain metro will have the capacity to transport 43,000 passengers an hour which should relieve congestion on the roads and reduce air pollution. This initiative is also meant to be as a more cost-conscious alternative for the youth and working professionals. Indeed, the various lines of the metro have been strategically designed to connect key parts of the city: the Blue Line will connect the Juffar suburb to Isa Town via the diplomatic area and the Red Line would bring passengers from the Bahrain International Airport to the suburban Seef District via the Bahrain Financial Harbor. These two lines will also cross in the financial harbor to provide more options to the subway users.
The Bahrain Metro is another reflection of the Kingdom’s dedication to the development of infrastructure and job creation. The Bahrain Metro was first introduced in 2009 but was put on hold due to the global financial crisis and budgetary approvals. This mega project was later revitalized as part of Bahrain’s Public Transport Masterplan 2030, a strategic plan devised “to develop current public transportation system, infrastructure and regulate the land transport sector”. This initiative is a key component of the Kingdom’s $32 billion investment plan created to boost its regional competitiveness.
For the past few years, Bahrain’s economy has been strained due to the three-year oil price lull. In 2016, the fiscal deficit was as high as 18% of GDP and decreased to 14% in 2017. However, its GCC neighbors have pledged financial support to support Bahrain’s financial recovery thus allowing for a forecast of 3.2% growth in 2018.
As the Gulf region’s smallest producer of crude oil in the region, Bahrain has a keen interest in diversifying its income sources and thus, unveiled the Vision 20130 program, a plan mirroring that of his neighbors. This program shows the Kingdom is the taking important steps to improve its infrastructure, increase non-oil gross domestic product and create jobs to increase its attractiveness. Major projects include the $3 billion Alba line 6 that will create 500 jobs and establish Bahrain as the owner of the largest single-site aluminium smelter in the world, the $1.1 billion airport modernisation project and the $335 million development plans for a new Bahrain National Gas Company plant. Despite the economic climate of the Kingdom of Bahrain of the last few years, the government has taken important steps to ensure its sustainability. The Bahrain Metro is yet another example of the concrete steps the Kingdom is taking.