Russia eyes multibillion dollar Gulf rail projects

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A Russian Railways (RZD) high-speed Velaro RUS train manufactured by Siemens. Photo -

Russian Railways announced it is planning to participate in the Abu Dhabi railway project, estimated to cost around $2 billion, and various railway projects in the Middle East and North Africa region.

“We have the best chances in the Gulf. Today we have all rights to think that we passed the pre-qualification stage for the project in the UAE,” Yury Nikolson, the head of Zarubezhstroitekhnologii (ZST), told reporters.

He added that the company is also interested in building light-rail metro systems in several Gulf cities.

“Our largest project in Kuwait is the building of a light-rail metro. The tender for the first stage has already been passed. We took part in it and the project is already being implemented. We are now preparing for the second stage of the tender,” Nikolson said.

Russia’s railway says it will implement the projects through Zarubezhstroitekhnologia (ZST), its foreign projects subsidiary monopoly.

Abu Dhabi has announced the construction of a $2 billion railway project which spans 700 kilometres of railways to transport cargo at a speed of 150-160 kilometers/hour.

“It was announced that there should be a railway, railway stations, depots and the entire necessary infrastructure. According to the project, the railway must be ready in 2015 and all infrastructures in Abu Dhabi must be completed in 2016,” the Russian executive said.

Nikolsson said the Abu Dhabi government will announce the results of the tender in August or September this year, adding around 150 to 200 Russian engineers will work at the project if the firm manages to clinch the tender.

ZST said it also intends to bid for the Kuwait metro light rail project which is estimated to cost $3-4 billion.

“After Dubai built light metro, almost all countries of the Gulf want to do the same,” Nikolsson added.

In 2008, it signed a contract with Algeria worth $1 billion for constructing suburban metro lines. It also has a $2.75 billion contract with Libya.

Iran projects

The ZST top executive is also eyeing a $250 million contract to electrify a 190 km railway in Iran.

“The talks about our participation in several rather interesting projects in Iran are being held. One of the projects stipulates a contract of about $250 million,” he told in an interview.

The company’s current projects include electrification of the Tabriz-Azarshahr railway which is almost completed, Nikolsson added.

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