The first phase of the network encompasses the 207km link from Sohar to Buraimi on the UAE border in the north of the sultanate, construction of which is expected to start in late 2015 or early 2016, with a target completion date of the end of 2018.

The five consortia are:

• Larsen & Toubro, India, FCC Construction, Spain, and local partner Khalid Bin Ahmed & Sons
• Salini Impregilo, Italy
• China State Construction Engineering Coorporation, and SK Engineering & Construction, Korea
• Porr Bau, Austria, Yuksel Insaat, Turkey, Daewoo, Korea, and local partner Sarooj Construction Company, and
• Saipem, Rizzano de Eccher, Italy, and Dogus Insaat, Turkey.

The bidders with the best technical and financial offers are expected to be invited to enter into final negotiations for the contract which will be awarded in the third quarter of 2015.

Oman Rail stipulates that 10% of the value of all contracts awarded for its railway project must go to domestic companies under an in-country value initiative (ICV). It awarded a contract for project management consultancy for the first phase to a consortium led by Spain's Tecnicas Reunidas in February and ultimately plans to construct a 2135km nationwide standard-gauge network.

Oman Rail says it plans to select an international partner for a 10-year operations contract by the end of the year. This partner will initially support in developing a customer base for the network and will ultimately be responsible for freight operations and network management as well as transferring skills to Omanis.

For more on Oman's railway development plans, see the March 2015 issue of IRJ p32. To subscribe, click here.