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Mon 31 Jan 2011 08:18 PM

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Oman to hire consultants to develop first rail network

Team will be in place in June to develop first phase of 1,600km rail track, says government official

Oman to hire consultants to develop first rail network
ON TRACK: In the first phase, 1,000km of track will link Muscat with the town Sohar as well as a rail network the neighbouring UAE is developing (Getty Images)

Oman will appoint project and design consultants in June to help create the Arabian Gulf country’s first railway network, the head of planning at the Supreme Committee for Town Planning said.

The network’s construction will take four years, Salim Al Affani said on Monday at a conference in the capital, Muscat. Freight and passenger services are scheduled to start in 2017, he said.

Oman, one of six countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council, is trying to improve transport links with other Middle Eastern nations. Ten companies have been shortlisted for each contract that will be awarded in June, Al Affani said. He declined to name the shortlisted companies or give a value for the project, citing government policy.

In the first phase, 1,000km of track will link Muscat with the town Sohar as well as a rail network the neighbouring UAE is developing, he said.

The second phase will include an additional 600km of track connecting the capital with Salalah in Oman’s south.

“We have visibility on phase one and from there it depends on the government’s willingness,” Al Affani said. “Studies have shown that the potential is low for the second phase because of the high cost, but the government is still intending to proceed with what’s planned for now.”

The UAE railway line will link with a train system covering the six cooperation-council countries in seven years, the head of Abu Dhabi’s Union Railway Co had said in November.

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