The government of Saudi Arabia is spending more than $90bn on the construction of a modern rail network linking all the provinces in the Kingdom by 2040. These public transport mega-projects will overcome barriers and blockades faced by the Saudi Arabian region to facilitate rapid urbanization and development.
At the 2nd Annual Saudi Arabia Transport & Infrastructure 2015 conference we are going to discuss some of the key projects include:
- GCC Railway project
- Saudi Railway Master Plan
- Arriyadh Development. Authority’s Comprehensive Development Plan
- Jeddah Public Transport Plan
- Riyadh and Jeddah Metro
- Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro
- Updates on the Haramain High Speed Rail Project
- Doha Metro
- and many more…
Key Topics to be discussed, include:
- Policy and Regulation
- Funding Aspects
- Urban Transportation
- Mainline & Urban Transit Project Developments and Updates
- Transit Oriented Development
- Technology and Security Solutions in Rail Transportation
John Arroyo’s first exposure to the 51-mile, concrete-walled Los Angeles River came in riding mass transit downtown from his East Los Angeles home, past a riverside cityscape of industrial structures, graffiti, and piles of debris.
Yet despite the river’s hard-knock appearance, it has been a center of creative expression for artists. When Arroyo left Los Angeles in 2008 to pursue a master’s in city planning at MIT, he continued looking critically at the river as a new paradigm of urban planning.
“Although my community saw relatively little promise in the river’s ecological future, they saw great potential in its ability to elicit cultural engagement,” Arroyo wrote in the preface to his 2010 thesis, “Culture in Concrete: Art and the Re-imagination of the Los Angeles River as Civic Space.”
Today Arroyo is a doctoral student and Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP). A self-described “nontraditional” urban planner, his work before grad school as a journalist and as a longtime arts advocate has encouraged him to incorporate methods from ethnography, sociology, and critical cartography into his research.
“At a very basic level, it’s recognizing that there are different specific physical, social, and cultural needs that planners, designers, and policymakers must pay attention to,” Arroyo says. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all sort of situation.”
For planners to accommodate diversity, they need to understand the people they’re planning for. That’s where Arroyo’s research—which has involved Mexican immigrants from urban and rural environments, and even transient populations of Mexican immigrants who are so closely tied to their homes that their communities become campaign stops for Mexican politicians—comes in.
This means, he says, that planners should take greater care to understand the needs and wants of various groups before actually planning for them. Arroyo’s research has revealed how transnational Mexican migration has dramatically influenced the built environment on both sides of the border—something he calls “place bilingualism.”
Existing streams of thought often assume, he says, that Mexican immigrants all want the same things, and the same civic environments. “And my research is saying, ‘I don’t know if we can say that,’” Arroyo says. “Do people want public spaces that remind them of their place of origin? Which physical dimensions of their lives in the U.S. do they export back to Mexico? When and how do people develop a sense of agency, or become complacent, when faced with a radically different built environment, compared to what was previously familiar?
“Before we’re reactive, I’d like to be proactive so that we know what we don’t know,” Arroyo adds. “It requires a fundamental change, behaviorally, in the way planners work. People are living in the city; plans and policies should be dictated by them, especially when it comes to the built environment. That can be scary for a planner who’s used to having control.”
Close to home
Much of the inspiration for Arroyo’s research comes from his personal experiences. By the time he entered high school, he realized that the name of his unincorporated East Los Angeles neighborhood provoked a reaction in people.
It was a neighborhood that some might call “tough” or “blighted”; Arroyo calls it “underresourced.” He lived with his family in a small two-bedroom house that accommodated up to 20 people during the agricultural season, when relatives migrated from central Mexico to work transient jobs picking strawberries and oranges. Gang violence often kept Arroyo indoors; when he did get out, he found a concrete environment with few parks and little greenery.
Yet despite its imperfections, Arroyo was infatuated by his neighborhood. He attended Loyola High, a top-ranked Jesuit school that attracted students from all over Los Angeles; for many classmates, Arroyo’s neighborhood was just a place they heard mentioned on the news. One message about his humble upbringing was drilled into his head over and over, he says: “All you need to do is get out. When you get the opportunity, just go and never look back.”
“I didn’t necessarily agree with that,” Arroyo says. He loved the vibrant Mexican community, and the artistic and culinary cultures. He decided to attend the University of Southern California as an undergraduate so that he could stay in Los Angeles and look more closely at “troubled” neighborhoods. “Was L.A. really as bad as everyone said?” he asks. “Or was it really much better, filled with lots of potential?”
Not just on paper
“A lot of planning schools have become policy schools. They’re disconnected from design,” Arroyo says. “MIT is so applied. You don’t have to lose sight of how both policy and design affect professional practice. Not only do you not have to—you should not.”
Arroyo has stayed on the front lines of urban arts culture and advocacy. He has worked with the Los Angeles Urban Rangers, a group of artists and advocates who lead tours showcasing some of the city’s lesser-known natural and urban features. He has also worked with an MIT group called the Community Innovators Lab (CoLab), which showcases research by DUSP students in an informal, applied manner via CoLab Radio. Many of the projects he’s worked on for CoLab—capturing soundscapes in European cities, or interviewing longtime residents of Los Angeles’ Skid Row—return him to his journalistic roots.
“Someone once asked: ‘Are you a journalist, or are you a planner?’” Arroyo says. “After I came to MIT, I wondered, ‘Why can’t I be both?’ Storytelling has such a major purpose in what we’re doing.”
It seems fitting that Arroyo’s latest project has returned him to Los Angeles and its eponymous river. Known as Play the LA River, it was started by Project 51, a group of artists and scholars whose goal is to inspire civic engagement with the river. Starting this September, the collective will hold events large and small to draw people to sites all along the river.
He will find ways to elevate bilateral ties with India
Building on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s theme of “smart cities” will be a key objective as Singapore’s Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam begins his India visit on Tuesday. Mr. Shanmugam is the latest in the string of high-profile visitors in Delhi wanting to engage with the new leadership, following close on the heels of Ministers from China, Russia and France, and just ahead of U.S. Senator John McCain and British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Sources said the five-day visit will be about “studying what are the priorities for the new government, while finding ways to elevate the India-Singapore bilateral relationship.” In particular, Mr. Shanmugam will speak about urban planning, water and waste management issues, where Singaporean expertise may be of use in India’s quest for renewing its city infrastructure, as also new ideas for strategic investment in infrastructure like the Mumbai port Singapore has contributed to.
Last week, after meeting Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, Singapore High Commissioner to India Lim Thuan Kuan said, “India is like a fast train that everybody wants to get into.”
Singapore is also India’s highest source of FDI, investing approx $ 6 billion here last year.
Mr. Shanmugam will meet the Prime Minister, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley while in Delhi. He will also travel to Hyderabad and Chennai where he will meet with Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Transport (DoT) has announced the start of work on a new adaptive traffic control central system project.
The AED33m ($8.9m) project comprises deploying and implementing the new ‘SCOOT’ traffic control central system.
Currently used in more than 120 cities across the world, the system offers improved flexibility and interactivity to respond to varying traffic conditions through data generated by vehicle counting and classification sensors.
It also coordinates traffic movement with nearby intersections facilitating integrated management of traffic on Abu Dhabi road networks.
The project will replaceme the present central control and field control systems with this new central control system on the emirate’s 125 intersections via around 20 sensors at each intersection.
The system comprises built-in capabilities to prioritise public transport vehicles, while leveraging instant response levels to traffic incidents.
“It will ensure better management of the road traffic network and less congestion.”
It also helps provide traffic data and information required for study and analysis by monitoring and reporting on level of service (LoS) at the controlled corridors.
This information helps in making adjustments to the traffic signal timings on the road network, and will also used to alert motorists on traffic congestion.
The project is in line with the surface transport master plan (STMP) to build world-class integrated and sustainable transport infrastructure, and is expected to be completed by early 2015.
DoT integrated intelligent transportation systems director Salah Al Marzouqi said: “This project is considered one of the key projects of the intelligent transport systems (ITS) strategy launched by the DoT in 2010.
“It will ensure better management of the road traffic network and less congestion whilst boosting the levels of vehicle safety and movement within Abu Dhabi.”
Image: The new system provides information to help alert motorists on traffic congestion. Photo: courtesy of Matthew Shiroma.
Montenegro (26 February 2014) – Montenegro’s Transport Minister Ivan Brajović and representatives of the Chinese company China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) signed earlier today in Podgorica the Framework Agreement and the Agreement on the project design, construction, and procurement and installation of equipment and materials for the construction of the Bar-Boljare highway, that is the priority section Smokovac-Uvač-Mateševo.
The signing of the agreement was one of the preconditions for starting negotiations with the Chinese EXIM Bank on financial viability of the project, Minister Brajović told the press conference following the signing ceremony.
The agreement on the project design and construction, and the financial agreement with the EXIM bank which is to be signed, as well as the Law on Highway, will be submitted to the Parliament of Montenegro for approval, he explained.
The Government of Montenegro selected the Chinese companies CCCC International (China Communications Construction Company) and the CRBC (China Road and Bridge Corporation) as best bidders for the construction the the 44-km priority section on the future Bar-Boljare highway on 4 July 2013. The offered price for the construction of the priority part of Montenegro’s greatest infrastructural project is EUR 809.577.356,14.
Indian officials ask Freight Forwarders’ Association of India to conduct a dry run to study the feasibility of using a road route between Iran and Azerbaijan, according a report on Mint.
India, which is exploring a free trade agreement with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, is pondering over using a road link between Iran and Azerbaijan, to get easier access the markets of Russia and former Soviet republics, Mint said on its website.on Monday. India’s commerce ministry has asked the Freight Forwarders’ Association of India (FFAI) to conduct a dry run to study the feasibility of using the road route between Rasht in Iran and Astara in Azerbaijan, the paper said.“We are trying to completely explore the route through a cost benefit analysis,” the paper cited an anonymous Indian commerce ministry official as saying. “The idea is to use the infrastructure as it is present today. The plan to build the rail is going on separately.” The official told the paper that FFAI would submit a report on the feasibility of the route by February or March.
For the last six months, India has been trying to persuade Iran to build the 165-kilometre missing rail link between Rasht and Astara, but no concrete agreement has been reached.
“It is very important to keep India economically engaged in the region because there is a lot of untapped potential,” Ram Upendra Das, a senior fellow at Research and Information System for Developing Countries told the paper. “Irrespective of our economic relationship with other countries, this would be a new region to expand our trade.”
The paper added that India faces a growing imbalance in its trade with Russia, with the latter maintaining a $2.2 billion trade surplus as for 2012. That figure is unlikely to come down in 2013, although it is widely believed that Russian exports to India have fallen this year.
Commerce ministry asks Freight Forwarders’ Association to conduct dry run to study feasibility of plan
Asit Ranjan Mishra
India is trying to persuade Iran to build a 165km rail link between Rasht and Astara (in Azerbaijan), a connection that will help Asia’s third biggest economy access the markets of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Russia. Photo: Mint
New Delhi: India is exploring using the existing road link between Rasht in Iran and Astara, Azerbaijan, to get easier access to the lucrative markets of Russia and other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) nations, as a proposal to build a rail link between the two places is taking more time than expected.
The commerce ministry has asked Freight Forwarders’ Association of India (FFAI) to conduct a dry run to study the feasibility of using the road route between the two places.
“We are trying to completely explore the route through a cost benefit analysis. The idea is to use the infrastructure as it is present today. The plan to build the rail is going on separately,” a commerce ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We are trying to find out why businesses do not use the existing road link. What are the problems and concerns of businesses.
The Freight Forwarders’ Association of India will submit the report by end February or March.”-
An FFAI official confirmed it is undertaking a dry run in the route. He, too, declined to be named.
India is trying to persuade Iran to build a 165km rail link between Rasht and Astara, a connection that will help Asia’s third biggest economy access the markets of the CIS and Russia. India currently uses the Suez Canal to reach the landlocked CIS countries. If the rail link is built, goods from India can be ferried through Iran into the CIS countries using the Bandar Abbas port, which will reduce the distance drastically.
Exploring the road link to boost trade with the region is a good move since the main problem is the lack of infrastructure and information gap, according to Ram Upendra Das, a senior fellow at Research and Information System for Developing Countries.
“It is very important to keep India economically engaged in the region because there is a lot of untapped potential. Irrespective of our economic relationship with other countries, this would be a new region to expand our trade,” Das said. “The study could be useful for business communities of both sides.”
In a recent study on enhancing India’s trade with Russia, the Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) said that while India’s ranking in Russia’s export market improved from the 24th position in 2001 to the 21st position in 2012, its ranking as an import partner for Russia declined from 19 in 2001 to 22 in 2012.
Russia maintains a trade surplus with India, which rose from $575 million in 2001 to $2.2 billion in 2012 as a result of a sharp fivefold rise in Russia’s exports to India from $1.1 billion to $5.1 billion in that period.
Fertilizers are the largest items in Russia’s exports basket to India, accounting for around 21% of the total exports from India in 2012, up from 9% in 2001. Pharmaceutical products dominate Russia’s imports from India, accounting for as much as one-fourth of its imports from India in 2012. India is the third largest source of pharmaceuticals for Russia, after Germany and France, with a share of 6% of Russia’s total imports in 2012.
For India, Russia ranks as the second largest market for pharmaceuticals after the US, accounting for around 7.8% of India’s total exports in 2012.
Other major items in Russia’s import basket from India include electrical and electronic equipment, iron and steel, coffee and tea, machinery, apparel and accessories, and miscellaneous edible preparations.
Although India’s exports to Russia has been increasing, India needs to export more to bridge the widening trade deficit, said David Sinate, chief general manager of Exim Bank of India.
“In Russia’s import basket, India’s share of pharmaceuticals is coming down, which means other countries are exporting larger amount of pharmaceuticals to Russia,” Sinate said. “Similarly, in textiles also, while our exports to Russia are rising, our share in the Russian textile import basket is coming down.”
KATHMANDU, DEC 10 -The government is upgrading four important trade routes to six-lane to facilitate bilateral trade with India and China.Out the four routes, upgradation work has already started on Butwal-Belhiya and Rani-Itahari routes, while the work on Surya Binayak-Dhulikhel and Birjung-Pathalaiya sections is yet to begin.
Based on the importance of the routes, the Department of Roads (DoR) had implemented “Trade Route Improvement Project” to upgrade and widen the four selected sections of trade routes to six lanes three years ago.
The four routes play a vital role in the bilateral trade with the neighbouring countries.
Narrow roads , traffic congestions and lack of parking facility have long remained as major problems on these routes, according to traders.
“The widening of the road sections is expected to help make timely delivery of goods allowing easy movement of large trucks and containers,” said Shankar Prasad Pandey, chairman of Trade Committee of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).
He said despite increased traffic, the road infrastructure remained the same for years hindering cross-borders trade.
According to the Doing Business Index 2013 released last month by the World Bank, Nepal has not made any reforms when it comes to cross-border trade. The country slipped to 177th position in the trading across borders indicator in DBI 2013 from 173 earlier. Exporting a standard container requires 11 documents, takes 42 days and costs $2,295 from Nepal, according to the report.
Despite the need for an urgent upgradation, the department has not been able to carry out construction on all four sections at once due to budget constraints.
With the government failing to allocate adequate resources, the department is considering upgrade the 15.4 km Suryabinayak-Dhulikhel section of the Araniko Highway with soft loan from the Japan government. Similarly, a study is being carried out for the improvement of Birgunj-Pathlaiya (28 km) section under the build-own-operate and transfer (BOOT) modality.
“We are studying the feasibility for upgrading the road from Raxual to Pathlaiya under the BOOT system,” said Gopal Prasad Sigdel, chief of the Asset Management, Contract Management and Quality Control Project of the department, which oversees the Trade Route Improvement Project.
He said Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) has been holding a study, expressing interest in providing soft loans to Nepal for the Suryabinayak-Dhulikhel section.
Department officials said Japan as expressed interest in providing the loan at 0.1 percent interest with a 30-year repayment period and 10-year grace period. The Tinkune-Suryabinayak section was also upgraded to six-lane under the Japanese grant assistance.
The Suryabinayak-Dhukhil section is estimated to require around Rs 3 billion, Birgunj-Pathalaiya Rs 5 billion, Butwal-Bhairahawa Rs 2.6 billion and Rani-Itahari Rs 4 billion. The government has planned to take the Rani-Itahari road to Dharan. The officials said the work is expected to complete within the next five-seven years.
The government this fiscal year provided Rs 940 million to the project (all four routes).
Currently, the department is working on a 5-km stretch of the Butwal-Belhiya (24.04 km) route and a 3-km stretch of the Rani-Itahari route.
Sigdel said that they would hire contractors for an additional 6-km stretch of the Butwal-Belhiya section and 5-km stretch of the Rani-Itahari section this year.
According to the department, the contractors will widen the road to six-lane (including a service lane) and also improve junctions by constructing bus stops, installing traffic and road safety measures, including road markings, signs and bridges.
Meanwhile, the government is also improving a 33-km section of the Narayanghat-Mugling road to the Asian Highway standard under a separate project named “Nepal-India Regional Trade and Transport Project”.
Ministry is disappointed by dismal response of domestic companies to road projects opened up for bids this year
The road ministry has already extended the closing date for submission of the request for qualification document for three projects. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
New Delhi: Disappointed by the dismal response of domestic companies to road projects opened up for bids this year, the road ministry is considering taking its big-ticket projects to international markets.
Road secretary Vijay Chhibber has written a letter to R.P. Singh, chairman, National Highways Authority of India, to explore the option of conducting road shows abroad for major expressway projects such as the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and the Delhi-Meerut Expressway that are being monitored by a group set up by the Prime Minister.
“There is an overdependence on the domestic players who have either run out of equity or have defaulted on some infrastructure debt or the other and are struggling to get finance from banks,” said a senior road ministry official who did not want to be named.
“So we are looking to bring in international competition and market our bigger projects outside.”
The ministry of road transport and highways has already extended the closing date for submission of the request for qualification (RFQ) document for three projects—the two mentioned above and the Mumbai-Vadodra expressway.
These project have a total cost of around Rs.25,000 crore and are being monitored by a steering committee chaired by the principal secretary to the Prime Minister. The committee was set up by the prime minister in July to fast-track infrastructure projects with investments above Rs.1,000 crore.
The ministry extended the deadline in order to get regulatory approvals that are pending. “Domestic players understand that by the RFP (request for proposal) stage, the ministry might get the remaining clearances, but the international player would refer to a checklist. In order to market our projects better in the international market, we would like to get all the clearances.”
“So we will extend the closing of the RFQ date till all clearances are in place,” the official said.
While most clearances for the Eastern Peripheral Expressway have been secured, wildlife clearance for the Delhi-Meerut Expressway and land acquisition for the first phase of the Mumbai-Vadodra Expressway are pending, the official added.
Another senior road ministry official confirmed the development, saying: “We are exploring the option of conducting road shows in countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Beijing (China). A recent visit abroad made us realize most other countries are not well aware of our projects.”
The move is likely to delay the deadline set by the steering group for these projects. But, the first official said, “It is preferable to get a better response for the project than meeting the deadline.”
The steering group had asked the ministry to award the Eastern Peripheral Expressway by 31 December 2013, the Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway by 1 March 2014, and the Delhi-Meerut Expressway by 15 March 2014.
The ministry failed to attract bids for 20 road projects worth Rs.27,000 crore, totalling 2,900km between March 2012 and October 2013.
“The Eastern Peripheral Expressway has been marketed several times; it has viability issues. Mumbai-Vadodra is a good project and perhaps one of the largest project that NHAI will ever bid, so it needs serious marketing,” said Parvesh Minocha, managing director of transportation business at infrastructure consultancy Feedback Infrastructure Services Pvt. Ltd
“The Delhi-Meerut project is a difficult project. In today’s environment, I am not sure which international company will bid for these projects. Clearances is not the biggest issue—the ministry needs to structure these projects better,” Minocha said.