Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transport and Communications
The first phase will include nine freight yards along the rail network, which will extend from Sohar to Duqm, the two largest yards with ports.

Oman has released a tender for the preliminary-design consulting-engineer contract for the first phase of the Oman national railway network.

The bid package, issued under the Ministry of Transport and Communications, is for nine freight yards, which will be key junctions along the initial 1,061-kilometer length of the rail network. The line will extend from Sohar to Duqm, the two largest yards with ports.

The last date for the bids is March 25, with more than 14 global companies expected to participate. Mott MacDonald, Sener, Bonifica SpA, DB International, Parsons, Yas Consulting Engineers, Dar Al Handasah, Consolidated Consultants, Al Manarah Engineering, Ehaf Consulting, Khatib & Alami, Hoehler & Partner, and INECO (Spain) are believed to be in the running.

Another request for proposals is to be floated later this year for a project-management consulting engineer for "detailed design and build." A third RFP, for project management consultancy and supervision services, will follow.

“We are aiming for the completion of the design by the end of 2014 and the construction phase to start in the third quarter of 2014," says Salim Bin Said Al Amri, head of the ministry's rail team. "We hope to complete phase one by the end of 2018, in line with a target set by the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] states.”

The national railway system is part of the proposed inter-GCC railway network, which will run from Kuwait to Muscat, then onward to Salalah and possibly Yemen.