A NEW TRACK

Oman 2015 | TRANSPORT | FOCUS: NATIONAL RAILWAY PROJECT

Developing a modern, integrated logistics and transport system is an essential part of Oman's economy diversification strategy.

Oman's new railway will re-design and boost the logistics landscape of the Sultanate, becoming the nerve system that will link the major new ports that are growing at pace in the country and contributing to make Oman a new logistics hub in the GCC.

The ambitious National Railway Project aims at providing opportunities for setting up new industries and services that will foster the growth of GDP and create specialized job opportunities. The railway will enhance trade activity in the Sultanate, relieving traffic congestion in the city of Muscat and cutting transportation costs; it will also allow for simplified freight movement and efficient passenger transportation.

The economic impact of the project will be remarkable. The railway will offer many employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. As reported by the Oman Observer, this timely project will require an estimated 12,000-kilometers of rail with a rail production plant that is seen as a viable option for the production of high-quality rails. A further estimated 10.2 million concrete sleepers for the network can potentially result in as many as five production plants being established at key locations along the alignment, with output from a medium-sized plant producing about 300,000 sleepers per year.

The project will consist of a 2,244-kilometer national railway network with segments from Sohar to the UAE border in Al Ain, Al Sunainah to Sinaw, Sinaw to Duqm, Duqm to Salalah, Sohar to Muscat, Al Misfah to Sinaw, Sinaw to Ibra, Thamrait to Al Mazyouna, and Sohar to Oman's border at Khatmat Milahah where tracks will eventually be linked up to the proposed trans-GCC rail network.

The government has recently established the Oman Railway Company (ORC), which will oversee all activities related to the country's national rail network. ORC has appointed the Italian company Italferr, to provide consultancy services for the initial project design, while Abu Taman Grant Thornton will provide the consultancy services needed to develop the railway company's organizational structure.

In an interview with TBY, Roberto Liuzza, Project Director at Italferr, disclosed that “the railway service will be operated by diesel locomotives, serving both freight and passenger traffic with a modern high standard infrastructure and system; the passenger trains' maximum speed will be 200 kilometers per hour, while freight trains will reach a peak of 120 kilometers per hour."

The Italian engineering company will apply its technical know-how to face the challenging and complex geography that marks the Sultanate.

The design activities will be completed in January 2016, while the main priority of the project is the connection of Oman's main ports of Sohar, Duqm, and Salalah to the UAE border.