A shortlist of three companies has been drawn up for the contract covering the preliminary design contract for Oman’s planned national railway.

The Italian consultant Italferr has submitted the lowest bid with a price of RO12,348,132 ($32m).  The second lowest bid came from Germany’s DB International with a price of RO16,512,852 and the third lowest bid of RO22,271,906 was submitted by Oman’s National Engineering Office.

Bids from 12 companies were submitted for the contract in May. Oman’s Transport and Communications Ministry issued the tender for the contract in February.

In June, Oman issued the tender for the project management consultancy contract. A deadline of 29 July has been set for the submission of bids.

It is expected that the prequalification process for various design and build packages is expected to start later in 2013.

The ministry is ramping up its efforts to build a 2,244-kilometre rail network in 2013, after it decided to retender the whole project in September 2012.

At the beginning of the yea, the Omani government said it would use some of the billions of pledged by GCC governments to fund the development.

The latest railway plans feature some revisions to the original tender, including the length of the track being extended from 1,061 kilometres to 2,244km. The extension includes a connection to Salalah port in the south of Oman. There are a total of nine segments planned.