The long-awaited tender for the preliminary design work of Oman’s national railway network has been released.

Oman’s ministry of transport and communications has invited international consultants bid to provide consultancy services for the preliminary design of its 1,061-kilometre railway network.

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

Previously five consortiums were prequalified for the design and engineering package. However it is thought this tender is open to other potential bidders as well.

A tender for the project management consultancy package is expected to follow this tender within the next two to three months. It will also be open to new bidders.

The launch of this 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.

The scheme will be constructed in four parts. Part one is a 242km connection from Sohar Port to Muscat. It also includes an eight kilometre line to Sohar Railway Yard and a 20km link from Al-Misfah to Muscat Central Station.

Part two of the line covers a 486km line from Al-Misfah to Duqm and an 84km link from Sinaw to Ibra. The third segment of the line covers a 136km line from Sohar to Al-Ain and a 27km spur to Buraimi.

The final section of the project covers the line between Duqm and Salalah in the south of the country.

Work has resumed on the 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.