Full steam ahead for Oman railway

Full steam ahead for Oman railway .Muscat: Oman’s ambitious 2,244 km-long national railway project powered ahead yesterday as the government signed three agreements for the building of the network.

And, it emerged that plans are afoot to float a major tender this month for pre-qualifying international firms for the main design-and-build contract aimed at building the entire project as a single package.

The work on the Oman National Railway project is expected to start by the first quarter of 2015, after selecting a design-and-build contractor for the entire project by the end of this year, Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, told journalists, after signing three agreements on Wednesday.

As per the plan, the 170 km-long Sohar-Buraimi route is the first segment (among nine segments) to be implemented and the route design for this sector will be ready by the end of July. The railway project is expected to be operational by 2018.

Most significant
Among the three agreements signed on Wednesday, the OMR13.58 million worth first agreement, which is the most significant one, was signed with Italferr, an Italian engineering firm, for providing consultancy services for preliminary route design, which will take 20-25 months to complete. The second pact was signed with Grant Thornton Abu Timam for providing consultancy services for the organisational structure of the railway venture. The third agreement was signed with Dar-al-Takween for creating a new brand identity and corporate image for the railway project.

“The preliminary design work is moving very fast. We have to select a project management consultant (soon) to review and approve the route design,” added Dr. Al Futaisi. He said the ministry would soon select the winner of the project management consultant.
Full steam ahead for Oman railway1
Source – Oman National Railway Project, Ministry of Transport and Communications. Times Graphics

Five international firms – Parsons Brinckerhoff International; leading Spanish engineering firm Tecnicas Reunidas; US-based global project management consultancy firm Hill International; South Korean engineering consulting firm Dohwa Engineering and Parsons International and Co – have been shortlisted for providing ‘consultancy services for project management.’

Elaborating on the whole development programme, the minister said that a pre-qualification tender for selecting the main design-and-build contractor is getting ready. There will be only one package for building the entire railway project across the country (as against several packages for the airport expansion programme). “We have a plan in our ministry to float the first pre-qualification (for the design-and-build) within this month. They will do the detailed design and they will be building it,” explained Dr Al Futaisi.

The minister also said that the pre-qualification is valid for at least four years and the ministry will not float another tender for pre-qualification. “The pre-qualified company will be eligible to bid for any segment.”

Dr Al Futaisi revealed that the government has allocated OMR1 billion for building the first segment of railway in the current budget. “However, the total cost will be known only after conducting the preliminary route design.” But earlier reports suggest that the overall investment for the nation-wide railway project will be in the region of OMR5-6 billion.

The minister also noted that 10 fresh Omani graduates will be given special training in Italy for the railway design. “These graduates have studied civil, mechanical and electrical engineering and they will be given special training to become railway engineers. They are going to Italy this month for a few months’ training.” Similarly, the project management consultant will take 40 fresh Omani engineers who will be trained for two years. “A total of 50 fresh engineering graduates have already been selected for the railway project.”

Luca Beccastrini, Middle East Area Manager of Italferr SPA, said that his company will have a team of 15-20 Italian engineers, who will join 10 Omani engineers to carry out the route design.

“Also, there are other officials in the ministry. We are also considering give work like geological studies to sub-contractors,” Becastrini said, adding; “We have already given the first drawing (of the first segment) for evaluation by the ministry.”

Full steam ahead for Oman railwaySource : www.timesofoman.com

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