Leaders in Rail: Planning ensures sustainability

The long-term growth of passenger rail requires sustainable planning initiatives

Samer Tamimi of Hill International (centre) with Asif Shafi of AECOM (right).
Samer Tamimi of Hill International (centre) with Asif Shafi of AECOM (right).

In a drive to ease congestion and reduce emissions – and as a symbol of urban status – numerous metro and Light Rail Transit (LRT) projects are planned or currently underway across the GCC.

Panellists Samer Tamimi, head of rail and infrastructure at Hill International and Asif Shafi, business development director – civil and infrastructure at AECOM both agreed that successful transit systems are compulsory if GCC countries are aspiring to create global cities.

Shafi said most cities ranked as some of the world’s best “boast successful transit systems”.

“It is a must-have for any city looking to claim a world-leading status, and Dubai has shown the way with the implementation of the Dubai Metro,” he added.

Tamimi noted that the rail sector within the GCC has huge potential – particularly through projects planned and those already under construction in Saudi Arabia. He said: “If you look at the GCC in general, clearly rail is an area that has potential, and the governments are viewing these projects as a way of growing their cities on the global stage.

“I view Saudi Arabia as the single biggest market where the majority of large scale rail construction projects will take place over the coming years.”

Shafi added: “The UAE has the only functioning rail network in the GCC at present in Dubai, and that will continue to see growth and lead the way in the development of state-of-the-art transport systems, particularly in the run up to the Expo 2020.”

Both panellists pointed out that mobilising talent to regions such as Saudi Arabia can be difficult.

Shafi said: “The scaling and magnitude of these developments, as well as the opportunity to work on projects from planning right through to completion, can draw a lot of people to the region. Then you have logistical issues. Rail experts moving with families have certain needs such as schooling for instance. These are the sort of things we need to take into account before executing projects .”

Tamimi concluded: “In Qatar, the success of its rail system in the aftermath of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will come down to the sustainability methods deployed by the country as a whole.”

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