Muscat: Oman has set up a National Railway Company to oversee implementation of the first phase of the railway project that will now include the southern region also, according to Dr Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communication.
The minister said in a statement to media that the newly formed and fully government-owned company will undertake major tasks including owning, supervising, planning, tendering, designing and constructing of the railway project.
“It will also be responsible for signing contracts with railway operators besides investing in transport of passengers and goods and all railway-related activities and to achieve the best rail transport services of international standard,” he revealed.
Al Futaisi said that his ministry had decided to embark on the preliminary designing work of the Duqm-Thamrait-Salalah railway track to be included in phase 1 of the railway project and connecting Dhofar governorate with the railway network.
“The Ministry of Transport and Communication will introduce the railway department which will be responsible for devising policies, systems and regulations of rail transport,” he added.
Oman’s 1,061-kilometre National Railway System is part of the proposed inter-GCC railway network that will run from Kuwait to Muscat, and onward to Salalah and likely to reach Yemen.
The first phase of the national railway network will include four divisions — from Sohar Port to Muscat, encompassing a 242km link from Sohar Port to Al Misfah (Muscat), an 8km spur line to Sohar Railway Yard, and a 20km link from Al Misfah to Muscat Central Station, from Muscat to Duqm Port, comprising a 486km line from Al Misfah to Duqm, and an 84km link from Sinaw to Ibra. The third stage from Sohar to the UAE border via Al Ain will have a 136km line from Sohar to Al Ain and a 27km spur to Buraimi. The fourth division will be from Sohar Port to Khatmat Malaha (58km) on the UAE border.
The double-track network will be designed for both passenger and freight transportation, although freight movement will be prioritised in the initial phases of the project.
Meanwhile, Darwish Bin Esmael Al Balushi, Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs, has said that the $10 billion (Dh36.72 billion) fund pledged by the GCC bloc will be partly utilised for the ambitious railway project, besides other infrastructure schemes the government has in mind across the country.
“The projects towards which the GCC financial aid will be utilised are currently being identified,” the minister saidon Wednesday while replying to questions from media after presenting the state budget.
“The projects include railway, Al Batinah Expressway, electric and water networks, and the provision of infrastructure at Duqm Special Economic Zone and other industrial estates,” he revealed in reply to a question.
He revealed that the assistance was decided initially as a collective initiative of four Gulf states to provide aid to the other two countries, which includes Oman. Later it was decided to treat this subject as a bilateral issue.