The work on the $3 billion Qatar-Bahrain Causeway project is set to begin by the end of this year and is likely to be completed by 2013, said a report citing officials involved in the project.

The construction of the 43 km causeway was to have started this month, but has been delayed after Qatar authorities asked for a railway line to be added to the original two-lane road plans, the Arabian Business reported.

The causeway, described as the world’s longest linking two countries, is to stretch from Qatar’s Ras Ushairjj, just 5km from Zubarah to Bahrain’s Askar village.

About 150 engineers in the region and more overseas are working on the final study of the ambitious ‘Friendship Bridge.’

The work on the project will start in summer and is expected to be completed by 2013, the report said quoting project officials.

In comments published by The Peninsula on Tuesday, Yves Thibault de Silguy, chairman of the Vinci Group and chairman of the Council of France-Qatar Entrepreneurs in the Medef International, said: “The Qatar-Bahrain project is a very big project. Before we have to start work, it is necessary to do a lot of studies.

“So, today, we have more than 150 engineers working here and more in Europe to complete the study and I hope the study will be finished before the end of this year and at this time, work will start. I think the project may be finished around 2013,” he added.

“The delay is to incorporate provisions for passenger and freight rail tracks,” Qatari Diar Vinci Construction (QDVC) CEO Gerald Mille said.

There will be two rail tracks on the left side of the 40km causeway, one for a passenger train with a maximum speed of 160km/hr and the other for a 120km/hr freight train.

The inclusion of the rail tracks necessitated the relocation of the navigation channel also,” he said on the sidelines of the Qatar Projects 2009 conference. “It was in August last year that we received the directive to include railway tracks as part of the causeway,” Mille added.

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