(Image courtesy of Hyundai Rotem)
On the Right Track
Preliminary consultancy contracts awarded to Italy's Italferr, Grant Thornton Abu Timam and Dar-al-Takween as Oman's ambitious OMR 5 billion (US $12.98 billion) railway project gets underway.
The Sultanate of Oman has awarded contracts to three companies in the first stage of its ambitious, Omani Rial (OMR) 5 billion (US $12 98 billion) plan to build a 2,244 kilometre (1,394 mile) national railway network by 2018.
Italian engineering advisory firm, Italferr, Grant Thornton Abu Timam and communications consultancy, Dar-al-Takween, will provide project advisory services to the Sultanate's Ministry for Transport and Communications in advance of the construction of the first segment of the railway network which will operate between the capital, Muscat and Sohar - Oman's fifth most populous city, 200 kilometres (124 miles) to the North.
Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Futaisi, the country's Minister of Transport and Communications revealed at a press event that a decision about the project's overall management consultant will be made shortly. Tecnicas Reunidas (Spain), The Parson's Group (USA), Parsons Brinckerhoff International (a subsidiary of the UK's Balfour Beatty), Hill International (USA) and Dohwa Engineering (South Korea) have all been shortlisted.
The Minister disclosed the government plans to publish a pre-qualification tender for a single design-and-build-contract shortly. "There will be only one package for building the entire railway project across the country, as against several packages for the airport expansion programme", Dr. Al Futaisi explained.
OMR 1 billion has been allocated for the first segment of the railway project in the country's 2014 budget.
Discussing Omanisation (a form of positive discrimination designed to encourage local employment), Dr. Al Futaisi revealed Italferr will provide specialist training in railway design to ten Omani graduates. He also added that he expected the company that will be selected to manage the design-and-build contract to train an additional 40 Omani engineers over a two-year period.
Luca Beccastrini, Middle East Area Manager for Italferr, says his company is working with the Ministry to identify additional opportunities for sub-contracting aspects of the project to Omani firms, and identifies the undertaking of geological studies as one area where there is sufficient local expertise.