Oman Rail get traction with a new Royal Decree

Oman Rail, one of the key building blocks of Oman’s future, has had Royal Decree, 24/2017 issued. This covers the forth part of the first package of the railway track.

Oman Rail
Oman Rail

The package covers the area between Thumrayt, Marmul, Hayma and Ad Duqm. This area has large Gypsum, Limestone and Oil resources (on this Oman Rail map the Oil fields are not shown around Marmul ) and is currently a focus of the Oman government and both private Omani and foreign companies.

Map of routes from Oman Rail
Map of routes from Oman Rail

The rail project that originally was planned as part of a GCC wide network looks increasingly likely to be implemented by Oman with a focus on connecting its three major ports, Sohar, Duqm and Salalah. These area all deep-water ports, ideal for bulk carriers. The routes will serve Oman’s east and south east mineral and oil producing areas. Duqm Port is looking increasingly important to Oman with Chinese inward investment in manufacturing and services, Iranian interest in car manufacturing and British military interest for its Geopolitical advantage.

The section under this decree will have a principal route of 398kilometers, served by additional feeder track of 256kilometers. There will be 24 ‘stations’ that will serve various functions including good yards, maintenance and for passengers (as the emphasis has been on freight the 3 passengers stations may be simply to serve staff).

Landowners will be compensated under the 1978 Royal Decree number 64 the newspaper report said.

Oman’s topography means that there will be just over 26kms of road and rail, bridging required. In general Oman Rail believes that the topography creates a substantially more expensive build cost of up to 5 times greater than in other GCC countries that have similar labour and equipment costs.

Substantial upgrades in the road network around the hubs for the rail project will be required as most are single track with weight bearing ability probably far below the capacity required to handle today’s trucks,

Other phases of the project were put out to tender several years ago and though these are still awaiting implementation the 11 consortiums involved will have an excellent knowledge of the requirements and cost background that will enable this south-east area to be the first phase to be worked on and completed.

Ongoing projects in Qatar that includes Qatar Rail and Qatar World Cup which have received building aggregate from Oman are probably too close to completion to be a factor in moving the Oman Rail project forward. However, they are indicative of the geographical reach that Oman Rail might serve.

Author: Tony Walsh

Book author including the current Bradt guide to Oman