Saudi Arabia has approved the $25bn Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) railway project, which will link the six GCC countries through a 2,117km railway network.

The project, in which trains will run at speeds of up to 350km/h, is set to boost regional travel and trade ties between the six countries.

The rail link will start in Kuwait and pass by the eastern Saudi city of Dammam, connecting with Bahrain through a bridge parallel to King Fahd Causeway before reaching Qatar via Salwa, while another line will connect the Kingdom with the UAE through Bathaa.

The railway line will also run through Abu Dhabi and Al-Ain to reach Oman through Sahar and Muscat, and connect Qatar and Bahrain through a bridge.

The land acquisition has been estimated to be $3.1bn and the cost of purchasing locomotives is pegged at $1.8bn.

Upon completion of engineering studies, work on the project will start by next year and is expected to be complete by 2017.