The growing Gulf Cooperation Council rail network and proposed IMEC Corridor

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

jis

Permanent Way Inspector
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
39,918
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Many have heard of the new railway lines built in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile UAE has been building its own network called Etihad Rail which stretches all the way from Abu Dhabi to the Gulf of Oman close to the Straights of Bab-el-Mandeb, connecting together the 7 Emirates that constitute UAE (see the map in the article linked above).

Now Etihad Rail (which incidentally means "United Rail") has signed an agreement with Oman Rail to build a connection to the Port of Sohar on the Gulf of Oman in Oman. The joint venture will be called Hafeet Rail.

In the long run all this will form a part of the India - Middleeast - Europe Corridor (IMEC) with the link to India provided by sea link from Sohar and Dubai to the giant cargo ports in Kandla and elsewhere in Gujarat. Those are the ports connected to the Dedicated Freight Corridor in India with double stack clearance.
 
I wonder how they envisage the onward movement of trains into Europe? I guess they would have to trace up the Gulf coast of Saudi, where a railroad is proposed but, apart from some shorter bits shared with other projects, not yet built. There are proposals to eventually extend this coastal route into Kuwait. And what then? I believe there was once long ago a rail link from Kuwait into Iraq, but is it still there? Assuming that could be solved, they could cross Iraq and go into Syria (that would be the second politically instable country) and thence to Turkey, all via existing routes (albeit with lots of zig zagging and dog legs). Alternatively they could avoid Iraq and go from Saudi via Jordan to Syria, but this would involve quite a lot of reconstruction of disused (or never built, or wrong gauge) rail lines and also involve a fair deal of zig zagging and dog legs. Either way, to get into Europe trains would need to cross Turkey and use the Bosporus rail tunnel, which currently offers only a scarce handful of freight slots (and only at night) and would put them into direct competition with trains from China for the limited capacity. Maybe somebody with deep pockets (the Chinese maybe) could one day step up and build a second Bosporus rail tunnel, but I think this is still decades away.

In an ideal world and assuming more friendship and goodwill between countries (and I know this is a big if) it might make more sense to look into a rail corridor via the 'Stans and across Russia and Ukraine into Europe.
 
Last edited:
I wonder how they envisage the onward movement of trains into Europe? I guess they would have to trace up the Gulf coast of Saudi, where a railroad is proposed but, apart from some shorter bits shared with other projects, not yet built. There are proposals to eventually extend this coastal route into Kuwait. And what then? I believe there was once long ago a rail link from Kuwait into Iraq, but is it still there? Assuming that could be solved, they could cross Iraq and go into Syria (that would be the second politically instable country) and thence to Turkey, all via existing routes (albeit with lots of zig zagging and dog legs). Alternatively they could avoid Iraq and go from Saudi via Jordan to Syria, but this would involve quite a lot of reconstruction of disused (or never built, or wrong gauge) rail lines and also involve a fair deal of zig zagging and dog legs. Either way, to get into Europe trains would need to cross Turkey and use the Bosporus rail tunnel, which currently offers only a scarce handful of freight slots (and only at night) and would put them into direct competition with trains from China for the limited capacity. Maybe somebody with deep pockets (the Chinese maybe) could one day step up and build a second Bosporus rail tunnel, but I think this is still decades away.

In an ideal world and assuming more friendship and goodwill between countries (and I know this is a big if) it might make more sense to look into a rail corridor via the 'Stans and across Russia and Ukraine into Europe.
No rail link for IMEC. through Iraq or Turkey which are considered to be hostile states by participants in the IMEC agreement. The rail link will be to Haifa Port through Suadi, Jordan and Israel, and then by sea to Piraeus near Athens in Greece to join the European rail network.
 
No rail link for IMEC. through Iraq or Turkey which are considered to be hostile states by participants in the IMEC agreement. The rail link will be to Haifa Port through Suadi, Jordan and Israel, and then by sea to Piraeus near Athens in Greece to join the European rail network.
So basically doing what the current shipping route via the Suez Canal does, but cutting out Suez and inserting a rail segment into the middle instead?

Trains might be faster (if the various countries concerned can work together and streamline border formalities) but depending on the details, some of these advantages would be eroded by handling in ports. And with the need to recover construction costs, it would have to be pricier than the Suez option. So probably only attractive for higher value goods.
 
So basically doing what the current shipping route via the Suez Canal does, but cutting out Suez and inserting a rail segment into the middle instead?

Trains might be faster (if the various countries concerned can work together and streamline border formalities) but depending on the details, some of these advantages would be eroded by handling in ports. And with the need to recover construction costs, it would have to be pricier than the Suez option. So probably only attractive for higher value goods.
It is basically avoiding maintaining large blue water navies to protect shipping from piracy by Somalia and problems at the entrance to the Red Sea perhaps, now that US is slowly withdrawing from its role in guaranteeing safety on high seas. The Navy has been re-architected so that it is no longer capable of providing the security that was provided in the past. So the world is recognizing that trend and figuring out how to work around those changes.. Whatever the reason, the participants seem to think it is worth doing it. I am merely guessing what their motivations might be.
 
The recent accidental blockage of the Suez by a single cargo ship and the resulting impact on the world's supply chain from that brief interruption should have governments world-wide considering long term alternatives to the Suez. Maintaining the flow of goods through that corridor is a strategic and economic essential.
 
Back
Top