20 rail projects to watch in 2020
Oscar Sinclair, 21/01/20

IRJ Market Analyst, Oscar Sinclair, profiles the 20 rail projects to watch in the next 12 months.

Lagos - Ibadan Railway

  • Country: Nigeria
  • Type: Main Line
  • Construction Start: 2017
  • Completion: 2020
  • Length: 156km
  • Cost: $US 1.53bn

China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) was awarded a $US 1.53bn contract to construct the line in 2012. The project was originally scheduled to be completed at the end of 2018 but has faced numerous delays. Heavy rain in the spring of 2018, which forced CCECC to evacuate its employees as a precaution, and the 2019 general election has pushed the commissioning date back to May 2020.


Western and Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridors

  • Country: India
  • Type: Heavy Haul
  • Construction Start: 2012
  • Completion: 2021
  • Length: 3360km (total)
  • Cost: $US 11.74bn

Construction of the first two Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC), the 1856km Eastern DFC and the 1504km Western DFC, will be nearing completion this year. It is hoped that 990km of track will become operational in the first half of 2020, with full commissioning scheduled in 2021. The two DFC projects were approved by the government in 2006 and have seen slow progress with many deadlines missed. The maximum speed on the lines will be 100km/h, a large increase from the average of 30km/h on India’s rail freight network.


Shanghe - Hangzhou Expressway

  • Country: China
  • Type: High-speed
  • Construction Start: 2015
  • Completion: 2020
  • Length: 794km
  • Cost: $US 13.6bn

The new line will connect the cities of Shangqiu, Hefei and Hangzhou, which are located in three separate provinces. The project includes the construction of the 3.6km Taihu Mountain Tunnel. The 400km Shangqiu to Hefei section of the line was commissioned in early December 2019, with the remaining section slated for completion in the first half of 2020.


Yinxi High-Speed Railway

  • Country: China
  • Type: High-speed
  • Construction Start: 2015
  • Completion: 2020
  • Length: 618km
  • Cost: $US 11.6bn

The new line will connect the two cities of Yinchuan and Xi’an and will serve a total of 20 stations. Trains will travel at 250km/h and the line will have the capacity for up to 30 million annual passengers. Commissioning is expected to take place at the end of the year.


Ankara - Sivas HSL

  • Country: Turkey
  • Type: High-speed
  • Construction Start: 2008
  • Completion: 2020
  • Length: 253km
  • Cost: $US 1.56bn

The Ankara - Sivas high-speed line is set to open in May and was 95% complete as of October 2019. The project includes 49 tunnels totalling 66km in length, with the longest over 5km long, and over 600 bridges and 217 over and underpasses. The line will provide a much shorter link between Ankara and Sivas and will eventually be extended further east.


Bayan Lepas LRT

  • Country: Malaysia
  • Type: Light Rail
  • Construction Start: 2020
  • Completion: 2026
  • Length: 29.5km
  • Cost: $US 2bn

The Bayan Lepas LRT will be the first light rail transit system in the Malaysian state of Penang. The planned route will connect George Town city centre with the industrial town of Bayan Lepas in the south of the island. Construction of the line was approved in April 2019 and work is expected to begin in mid-2020.


Bangkok Red Line

  • Country: Thailand
  • Type: Metro
  • Construction Start: 2013
  • Completion: 2020
  • Length: 26.3km
  • Cost: $US 3.1bn

Commissioning of the first section of Bangkok’s elevated Red Line is expected to begin this year. Hitachi is due to complete delivery of 25 new trains for the line in June 2020 and testing on the line will begin in January next year.

Ho Chi Minh Line 1

  • Country: Vietnam
  • Type: Metro
  • Construction Start: 2012
  • Completion: 2021
  • Length: 19.7km
  • Cost: $US 2.5bn

A feasibility study for the project was conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) in 2006. However, progress has been slow. Costs for the line have ballooned from an initial estimate of $US 1.4bn to $US 2.5bn. Work was due to be completed in 2018 but has been pushed back to the end of 2020 with the opening expected in early 2021.


Baghdad Metro

  • Country: Iraq
  • Type: Metro
  • Construction Start: 2020
  • Completion: 2025
  • Length: 22km
  • Cost: $US 2.5bn

Construction of the much-delayed Baghdad metro could start early this year with Iraq’s government intending to include the project in its 2020 budget. In 2018, a consortium of Alstom and Hyundai submitted a bid for the project backed by a soft loan from a consortium of five foreign banks. The project is projected to take five years to complete.

Sydney Metro West

  • Country: Australia
  • Type: Metro
  • Construction Start: 2020
  • Completion: 2030
  • Length: 25km
  • Cost: $US 13.5bn

The new 24km underground Sydney Metro West project will reduce the travel time between Parramatta and the Sydney CBD to 20 minutes. More than 50km of tunnel will need to be constructed for the line, the longest in Australian history. Construction is scheduled to begin this year, generating 10,000 direct jobs.


North Bothnia Line

  • Country: Sweden
  • Type: Main Line
  • Construction Start: 2018
  • Completion: 2020
  • Length: 270km
  • Cost: $US 3bn

A continuation of the existing Botniabanan, the 270km Norrbotniabanan will create a direct coastal rail link between Umeå and Luleå in northern Sweden. The new line will reduce journey times between towns in northern Sweden, serving up to 1.6 million passengers per year, and permit an increase in the maximum weight of freight trains from 1100 to 1600 tonnes.


Rail Baltica

  • Country: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
  • Type: High-speed
  • Construction Start: 2019
  • Completion: 2026
  • Length: 870km
  • Cost: $US 5.8bn

One of the priority projects of the European Union (EU) Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T), Rail Baltica is a joint venture for the construction of an 870km 240km/h mixed-traffic standard-gauge railway from the Estonian capital Tallinn, via Riga and Riga Airport in Latvia, and Panevezys and Kaunas in Lithuania, to the Polish border, with a branch from Kaunas to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. The project is expected to bring a multitude of socio-economic benefits to the region and be the catalyst for building a new economic corridor. Construction is already underway on the Estonian and Lithuanian sections, with the Latvian section expected to begin this year.


Texas Central Railway

  • Country: United States
  • Type: High-speed
  • Construction Start: 2020
  • Completion: 2026
  • Length: 390km
  • Cost: $US 20bn

The Texas Central Railway project has made significant strides in the past year and construction is expected to begin in 2020. Texas Central, the Dallas-based company developing the project, awarded a $US 14bn construction contract to Italy’s Salini Impregilo in September. Once complete, the new line will link Dallas and Houston in under 90 minutes, with trains departing every 30 minutes during peak hours. The line will be entirely privately financed, making it the first private high-speed line in the world.


Calgary Green Line LRT

  • Country: Canada
  • Type: Light Rail
  • Construction Start: 2020
  • Completion: 2026
  • Length: 46km
  • Cost: $US 3.7bn

The Green Line will serve 28 stations and add 46km to Calgary’s 59km light rail network. Construction on phase 1 comprising the central section through downtown and including the Centre City Tunnel is expected to start this year. Described by the city council as “the top infrastructure priority for Calgary,” the Green Line is forecast to carry around 41 million passengers a year and will be the first light rail line in the city to use low-floor vehicles.


Las Vegas - Victorville HSL

  • Country: United States
  • Type: High-speed
  • Construction Start: 2020
  • Completion: 2023
  • Length: 270km
  • Cost: $US 8bn

The plan to build a high-speed line between Victor Valley and Las Vegas secured state approval in October and will receive $US 3.25bn in bonds from the California Infrastructure and Economic Bank. The funding is a big step forward for the project and construction is now expected to begin this year. Virgin Trains USA is leading the project and there are plans for a future extension to Los Angeles.


Bogota Metro Line 1

  • Country: Colombia
  • Type: Metro
  • Construction Start: 2020
  • Completion: 2024
  • Length: 23.9km
  • Cost: $US 5.1bn

The Bogotá Metro has been a topic of debate since the 1950s when the collapse of Bogotá Tramways left a void in the capital’s mass transit system. In October, a consortium of China Harbor Engineering Company and Xi’an Metro Company won a $US 5.16bn contract to design, build, operate and maintain Line 1. Work on the elevated line is expected to begin in April, with construction taking four years to complete.


Murcia - Almeria HSL

  • Country: Spain
  • Type: High-speed
  • Construction Start: 2020
  • Completion: 2022
  • Length: 184km
  • Cost: $US 2.8bn

The new line will link the cities of Murcia and Almeria in southeastern Spain and will bridge a gap in the Mediterranean Corridor. The line will include two standard-gauge high-speed tracks for passenger trains with a maximum design speed of 300km/h and an 1668mm-gauge track for freight. The project is being constructed in sections, with some progressing faster than others. Political disagreements have also held up work.


Grand Paris Express - Line 18

  • Country: France
  • Type: Metro
  • Construction Start: 2020
  • Completion: 2027
  • Length: 35km
  • Cost: $US 3bn

Line 18 will connect Orly airport to Versailles by 2030, serving the Saclay Plateau’s Innovation and Research clusters as well as large residential areas. The line will consist of a 14km underground and 21km elevated section and is part of the Grand Paris Express project to develop four automated lines spanning 200km.

Cairo Monorail

  • Country: Egypt
  • Type: Monorail
  • Construction Start: 2020
  • Completion: 2024
  • Length: 52km
  • Cost: $US 4.5bn

The Cairo Monorail network will comprise a 52km line from New Administrative City to East Cairo and a 42km line connecting 6th of October City with Giza. Egypt’s Ministry of Transport announced it had selected a consortium of Bombardier and Egyptian companies Orascom Construction and Arab Contractors as preferred bidder for the two projects in May 2019.


Chennai Metro Phase 2

  • Country: India
  • Type: Metro
  • Construction Start: 2020
  • Completion: 2025
  • Length: 118.9km (total)
  • Cost: $US 6.3bn

Phase 2 comprises three separate lines spanning 118.9km and serving 128 stations. Construction is expected to begin in the first half of the year and take four to five years to complete. At present, soil tests and detailed design work is underway. To avoid delays by contractors, Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) plans to carry out station, viaduct and tunnelling work independently.


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