CONSTRUCTION has officially begun on the new 303km railway from Sohar in Oman to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after a shareholder agreement was signed by three groups implementing the project, Etihad Rail of the UAE, Oman Rail and Mubadala Investment Company.

The signing follows the award of construction and systems contracts for the project last month. Civil works will be undertaken by an alliance of companies from Oman and the UAE, led by Trojan Construction Group and Galfar Engineering and Contracting, and also including Tristar Engineering & Construction (TE&C) and National Infrastructure Construction Company (NICC).

Siemens, in consortium with Hassan Allam Construction of Egypt, has been awarded a design-build contract for railway systems and integration, including ETCS Level 2 signalling, telecommunications and power supply systems.

The start of work follows the completion of preliminary engineering on the project by the company jointly founded by Etihad Rail and Oman Rail.

Rebranded as Hafeet Rail, the project is expected to cost $US 3bn.

Diesel-powered passenger trains are expected to operate at up to 200km/h on the new line, offering a journey time of 1h 40min between Sohar and Abu Dhabi, significantly less than the current 3h 25min journey by road. Passengers will be able to reach Al Ain from Sohar in 47 minutes.

The railway will also carry freight, targeting customers from the mining, iron and steel, agricultural and food, retail, e-commerce, and petrochemical industries. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in August 2023 to move raw materials to Jindal’s steel plant in Sohar. A similar MoU was signed with Vale for the transport of iron ore and derivatives from the Port of Sohar.

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