Oman's ambitious national railway project, estimated to cost anywhere between OMR5-6 billion for building 2,244 kilometres of railway line, will be implemented on a fast track basis and completed in a single phase, instead of three phases as proposed earlier.
The government is in an advanced stage to appoint a project management consultant, after the Tender Board short-listed a few companies that submitted their bids. "We are in the process of reviewing and evaluating the tenders and hope that by the end of this month, we will send our recommendations to the Tender Board to process these further," said Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, on the sidelines of an investment opportunities forum on railway project conducted under the patronage of His Highness SayyidAsa'ad bin Tariq bin Taimour Al Said, Representative of His Majesty the Sultan.
The first contract for the 2,244-km-long railway line will be awarded by the end of 2014 and a section of the railway project is expected to become operational by 2018. "We are going ahead (with the project) on a fast track and through this forum, we are asking the private sector to think about investment strategy and take advantage of the available opportunities."
Italferr, an Italian engineering firm, won a contract for consultancy services for preliminary design of the national railway project. The whole railway will have 30 small stations, 10 interim stations, six large stations and eight marshalling yards.
Al Futaisi said the newly-formed Oman Railway Company (which is under the Ministry of Transport and Communications) would take care of the entire implementation programme, including procurement. "Then it will look at the operations part. It will decide whether it is to be operated by the company itself or a subsidiary be created to take care of operation," added the minister. Oman Railway Company (ORC) may also consider giving the operation licence to a foreign company.