By Ed Attwood
Sultanate highlights 136-km link as receiving “priority attention”, replacing Sohar-Fujairah line
Oman has confirmed that the link between the industrial port of Sohar and the UAE border city of Al Ain will be the first section of the country’s rail grid to be completed.
According to the Oman Daily Observer, which cited an unnamed official at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the 136km line (which also includes an 8km spur line to Buraimi) will “receive priority attention… and will be implemented first”.
The newspaper reported that the Al Ain-Sohar link has replaced the 58km Sohar-Fujairah link, which was originally due to be finished first.
The official gave no indication as to when construction on the rail link would start, or when the line would become operational.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that nine groups were planning to bid for an estimated US$155m contract to design and consult on the first phase. The bid deadline is October 5.
Oman’s railway network is being planned over three phases. Other than the two lines from Sohar to the UAE, the first phase will include routes between Sohar to Muscat, Muscat to Duqm, Sinaw to Ibra, and Muscat to Rusayl.
The second phase will consist of a link between Duqm and Salalah, while phase three will see a railway being built between Thamrait and the Yemeni border.
According to Oman’s Rail Working Group, the full 1,200km network will be able to handle around 8,800 tonnes of freight daily.
Each state in the GCC, which also includes Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, plans to build its own railway system as part of efforts to boost trade among member states. Each government is to fund construction within its borders.
Good news. I hope to see the whole GCC rail network finished in my lifetime.