According to a report in the Times of Oman on August 13, 18 international consortia have prequalified for the civil works contract, while five groups led by Alstom, Ansaldo STS, Bombardier, Siemens, and Thales are vying for the railway systems contracts.

ORC selected a shortlist from 34 prospective bidders including 95 local and international companies for the 171km line from Sohar to Buraimi.

Prequalified consortia will be invited to submit bids before the end of the month. Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of next year with commissioning scheduled for 2018.

Italferr, Italy, is currently carrying out preliminary design of the entire network under a Rials 13.6m ($US 35m) contract awarded last year.