The line will run from Sohar to the UAE border at Buraimi and comprises the Omani section of the GCC railway network. Under the terms of the contract, the consortium will work alongside Oman Rail to carry a complete review of the preliminary design work for the entire network which is currently being conducted by Italferr and is due to be completed by the end of the year.

In addition, it will be responsible for supervising first phase construction, which is also expected to start by the end of 2015, and testing and commissioning for the project which is the ministry is aiming to complete by the end of 2018 in line with the GCC's target for the integrated railway. Technical bids for the civil works contract were submitted to Oman Rail on January 18, and financial bids are due by March 1. The winning contractor is expected to be announced by the middle of the year.

The consortium will also oversee contract processes, the procurement of rolling stock and the appointment of an operator for the line. This contract, which includes maintenance, is set to be awarded in the first half of this year.

Bids for the project management contract were submitted to the ministry in March 2014 and were expected to be awarded by the middle of that year. The other short-listed bidders included a consortium led by Dohwa Engineering, Korea, which was the low bidder with an offer of $US 87m, and Parsons International which bid $US 203m.

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