Oman has extended the bid deadline for contract covering the preliminary design of Oman’s national railway.  

Oman’s Transport and Communications Ministry has set a new deadline of 6 May for the consultancy services contract.

It is the second time the deadline has been extended since the launch of the tender in February. It was previously set for 22 April.

The project is proving popular, with more than 30 companies having purchased the tender documents since it was floated.

Work resumed on the rail scheme at the beginning of the year, when the Omani government identified the rail network as a priority investment in its 2013 budget.

The government also announced it would use some of the billions of dollars of aid pledged by GCC governments to fund the development. The launch of the tender marks another step toward the formation of a GCC-wide railway connection, which will see Oman’s network eventually connect with Qatar and UAE networks.

Oman had previously tendered the railway project last year, but decided to retender the scheme last September.

The rail project will be carried out in various sections covering a total of 2,244 kilometres rather than the original plan of 1,061km.

The extension to the original network includes a connection to Salalah Port in the south of Oman. There are a total of nine segments planned. The first segment covers 136km connecting Sohar to the UAE border, with additional spurs to Al-Buraymi and Sohar railway yard covering 35km.

The second segment covers 330km between Al-Sunayah to Sinaw while the third section covers 340km between Sinaw to Duqm.

Section four covers 696km from Duqm to Thumrayt and then on to Salalah Port. Section five covers 242km between Sohar Port to Muscat, plus an additional link to Muscat Central station. Section six links Al-Misfah to Sinaw while the seventh section covers Sinaw to Ibra. Section eight links Thumrayt to Mazyouah over a planned 157km of track. The final section connects Sohar Port to the UAE border at Khatmat Milahah.

A further section connecting Duqm to Salalah is also planned.

A main passenger station, Muscat Central Station, is expected to be built near the Muscat International airport, linked by a possible light railway or mass-transit system.  

Following the appointment of a preliminary design consulting engineer (PDC), Oman’s Transport Ministry will look to appoint a project management consultant (PMC) and a supervision consultant.

The role of the PDC will include working on the preliminary design of civil works and electrical and mechanical systems, as well as the definition of the construction packages and preparation of the tender documents for prospective design and build contractors.

The passenger trains are expected to travel at 200km/h while the freight trains will run at between 80km/h and 120km/h. The trains are expected to be diesel fuelled.

Early estimates suggest total traffic on the railway network north of Muscat will be 1,217,000 passengers a year, which equates to 3,200 passengers boarding every day.

Freight traffic is expected to hit 23.1 million tonnes in 2017, rising to 33.7 million tonnes by 2039.