• Oman Rail has reduced its list of bidders for the the first sector of the national rail project from five to three
  • A consortium led by Italy’s Saipem is thought to be the lowest bidder
  • Etihad Rail’s decision not to include a UAE-Oman link in its next phase of rail has not put the project at risk

Oman Rail has narrowed its list of bidders to three consortiums for the first sector of the national rail project, a 127-kilometre line linking Sohar to Buraimi.

The three consortiums are:

Oman Rail is still carrying out commercial evaluation, but construction is expected to start by the end of 2015.

The three remaining bids are thought to be about RO1.5bn ($3.9bn).

MEED understands that the consortium led by Saipem submitted the lowest bid, but has the lowest-ranked technical bid.

Salini reportedly submitted the highest-ranked technical bid, but their commercial offer is the highest still under consideration.

Oman’s proposed $15bn national rail infrastructure is expected to extend 2,135km across mountains and deserts. It is particularly challenging to execute, due to the sultanate’s size and terrain, which raises costs.

It is planned to connect to the GCC network through a link between Buraimi and Al-Ain in the UAE.

Despite Etihad Rail’s decision to drop the link from the contracts it is tendering for the UAE’s national rail project, Oman’s rail project is not at risk. It is a major part of Oman’s development plan, and will still reduce logistics times and costs.

“Etihad’s decision has taken the pressure off, so [Oman Rail] can afford to delay things,” says a consultant involved in the project. “They don’t seem too bothered as the link is supposed to be part of phase 3.”

Oman is currently prequalifying civil contractors for the second segment of the railway line, which will connect Hafeet, where the first segment ends, to Dhahirah in the northwest of the sultanate. Both segments aim to be operational before 2019.

Seven other packages are currently under study, with the civil contracts for each segment due for award between 2016 and 2017.

Stay informed with the latest in the Middle East
Download the MEED app today, available on Apple and Androiddevices