The estimated cost of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) rail network has risen from $14bn to $20–$25bn, GCC’s assistant secretary general for economic affairs has revealed.

The jump in cost is due to the countries’ reworked plan to modify the network to operate ina simialr way to Europe’s Eurostar.

The 1,940km rail network would connect the six countries of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Although each of the six countries would contribute towards the start-up capital, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will handle most of the funding as they will have the longest tracks of around 600km each.

The rail network would run diesel-powered trains operating at 200kmph to carry passengers and freight between the six countries.

With the detailed study expected to finish by this year, construction should begin by 2010–2011 and finish by 2017.