Muscat: Oman's ambitious national railway is likely to use diesel engines for trains, instead of an earlier proposal for electric traction.
This could be in line with other GCC countries' plans to go in for diesel locomotive for their railway network, sources in the contracting firms said. However, when contacted, a senior official of Oman Rail Company (ORC) declined to comment on the power option before the government for the prestigious 2,244 km-long national railway project.
However, these railway lines could be eventually converted into electric lines without too much effort.
Sources in contracting firms, which are bidding for pre-qualification of design and build contract for civil infrastructure/railway track and the railway systems contract, said that the authorities would name pre-qualified companies by mid-July.
The ORC, which is responsible for implementing the project, has received 34 quotations from 95 local and international companies for the pre-qualification process for developing the infrastructure, while 14 local and international companies submitted nine quotations for pre-qualifying themselves for technology systems for the railway project. The consortium leaders in the race are from Russia, South Korea, Turkey, Europe and India.
"Oman is looking for well experienced large companies, who have long experience in building railway lines, tunnels and bridges," noted a source in a contracting firm, which is a member of a consortium that submitted their bid for pre-qualification.
The railway systems contractor will serve as a sub-contractor of the main contractor, who will be responsible for the integration, testing and commissioning of the network. Once the pre-qualification process is complete, authorities will float an EPC contract seeking bids from eligible companies for these two key contracts. And the construction work on Oman national railway project is expected to be awarded by January 2015, after selecting a design-and-build contractor for the first segment - which is the 170-km long Sohar-Burimi route.
It is expected that a majority of the pre-qualified companies are likely to get one or the other contracting job (could be signalling or building railway stations, or tunnels) either as a main contract or a sub-contract in nine different segments.
The national railway project is divided into nine segments, including Duqm-Thumrait-Salalah, Sohar Port-Muscat, Al Misfah-Sinaw, Thumrait-Al Mayzouna and Sohar Port-Khatmat Malalah.
A project management consultant for managing the project will be selected soon from three multinational firms - Dohwa Engineering, Tecnicas Reunidas and Parsons International - which are now short-listed. South Korea's Dohwa is the lowest bidder for project management consultancy work.
Italferr, an Italian engineering firm, is working on preliminary route design, which will take 20-25 months to complete.
Sources also revealed that technical experts from some of the companies trying to submit pre-qualification process have already visited Sohar-Buraimi site.
Also, Oman government is planning to organise a GCC railway seminar sometime in August or September this year.
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