The tracks of growth

The first contract for the ambitious, 2,244-kilometre national railway project will be awarded by the end of 2014 and a section of the project is expected to become operational by 2018 .
Atwo-day forum on ‘Investment Opportunities in Railway Project’ organised recently by the Ministry of Transport and Communications at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel deliberated on the various business and investment opportunities linked to the much-awaited national railway project. The forum, held under the patronage of HH Sayyid Asa’ad bin Tariq bin Taimour Al Said, Representative of His Majesty the Sultan, was aimed at upgrading the level of awareness about the project, identifying areas and opportunities for the private sector’s participation and developing a roadmap for enhancing the economic and social benefits. The ambitious project, estimated to cost between RO5 to 6bn for building 2,244 kilometres of railway line, will be implemented on a fast track basis and completed in a single phase.

In his opening speech, HE Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, said, “This great national project aims to promote economic and social benefits. There is no doubt that today’s transport system represents the vital nerve of any modern economy and that the development and integration of this system, as well as emphasising the availability of alternatives and enhancing competitive opportunities, is a must if we want to reserve for ourselves a place at the forefront.”

The minister noted that the project has commenced in earnest this year and that it requires great effort and commitment in order to ensure the achievement of set targets. He defined these as the vision of the project; implementation of the infrastructure, where the goal is to attain first contract targets by the Q4 of 2014 and bring to operation the first railway line in 2018; strategic training for maintenance of trains; development of human resources to the highest professional levels and economic and commercial concerns together with the involvement of the private sector and the community at large.

HE Al Futaisi concluded by noting, “It is among our goals here to turn railway stations into concentrated areas of regional trade and value-added industries, transforming Oman into a magnet and a favourite destination among shipping-lines and passengers.”

A key government official overseeing the ambitious project said a contract for the construction of the first segment of the Oman National Railway Network – covering the Buraimi-Sohar segment – is due to be awarded before the end of next year. The roughly 171-km segment, inclusive of spur lines to Buraimi and the Sohar railway yard, constitutes a key part of the Oman component of the GCC Railway Network. This segment is due to be brought into operation in 2018 along with the rest of the Gulf-wide rail network. “We have every ambition to award the (design and build) contract for the Buraimi-Sohar segment by 2014,” said Abdulrahman al Hatmy, director of the Oman National Railway Project.

According to Italferr, the Italian engineering firm that won the consultancy services for preliminary design contract for the national railway project, the national railway will need 30 small stations, 10 interim stations, six large stations and eight marshalling yards. Speaking at a panel discussion on ‘business opportunities in rail’, Italferr’s Middle East area manager Luca Beccastrini said the railway project will need 12,000km of rail, 10 million sleepers, 20 million elastic pads and 2.25 million metres of pipes, 35 tunnels, 45 viaduct and 98 pedestrian crossings.

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