Oman-Etihad Rail Co agreement

ASIA: National railway project promoters Oman Rail and Etihad Rail have agreed to establish equally-owned Oman-Etihad Rail Co to design, develop and operate a mixed traffic railway connecting the port of Sohar to the UAE’s developing network.

The company is to develop a work plan, financial mechanism and schedule for the US$3bn project.

Passenger trains would run at 200 km/h and offer a 1 h 40 min journey time on a 303 km route from Sohar to Abu Dhabi, with freight trains running at up to 120 km/h.

Developing a network

Oman Rail has plans for a 2 135 km network in the sultanate, where the only railway is currently a narrow gauge line which carries tourists into a show cave.

The proposed network would connect ports, industrial areas, mineral deposits and centres of population with each other and with the wider Gulf Co-Operation Council region.

A railway would ‘offer trade and logistics companies outstanding investment opportunities and empower manufacturing and industrial activities to quickly expand beyond borders’, said Abdulrahman Salim Al Hatmi, Group CEO of Oman Rail’s parent company, logistics group Asyad, on September 28.

’The envisioned network will complement our comprehensive set of ports and logistics assets, augment our competitiveness and open faster access to global markets.

‘The railway also promises huge strategic economic and social gains as it promotes a more diverse robust national economy, upgrades infrastructure and logistic services, drives forward travel and tourism, and ultimately improves the quality of life for communities on both sides of the borders by supporting the various strategic initiatives of the governments of Oman and the UAE.’

Etihad Rail CEO Shadi Malak said the agreement ’outlines a strategic roadmap for a sustainable project which will contribute to bolstering the solid relations between the UAE and Oman, and will play an instrumental role in facilitating national and regional trade by connecting the UAE National Rail Network with Sohar port.’