Sep 16 2012
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Sohar-Al Ain rail line to be implemented first
"As requested by the UAE side, as an agreed by the Sultanate, construction of the Sohar-Buraimi-Al Ain section will receive priority attention during the implementation phase. This section-and not the Sohar-Khatmat Malaha/Fujairah section, as envisaged under the UN ESCWA's original rail map for the Arab Mashreq region, will be implemented first," the official stated in comments on the final day of the three-day forum.
He said the 58km Sohar- Khatmat Malaha line, which connects with the UAE rail network on the Fujairah side, will be undertaken during the overall Phase 1 development of the national rail project. Also envisaged for implementation in this phase, which covers a total distance of 1,061 kilometres, is the 242km Sohar-Muscat line, 486km Muscat-Duqm line, 84km Sinaw-Ibra link, 8km spur from Sohar to Sohar Railway Yard, and 20km link from Muscat Central Station to Al Misfah (near Rusayl).
In Phase 2 of the project, the rail network will be extended from Duqm to Salalah, with a link between Thamrait and Al Mazyounah, on the border with Yemen, envisaged in Phase 3, the official noted. The comments came in the context of the significant changes effected by Oman's authorities to the original proposal for a roughly 1,200km rail network running the length of the Sultanate from Khatmat Malaha to Salalah, with an onward connection to Yemen. That proposal was set out in an Arab-wide integrated, multimodal transport system that was adopted in April 2003.
According to the Rail Working Group, the approved alignment for the Oman National Rail Project does not envision a corridor through the central desert of Oman via Haima, as originally set out in the UN ESCWA route proposal. Instead, the line veers east from Muscat towards Duqm via Sinaw. Although a double track system, the rail network will initially cater for freight transport, given the substantial potential for rail-based cargo movement, particularly between Sohar, Al Ain, Muscat and Duqm, it is pointed out.
Forecasts issued by the Rail Working Group estimate the total volumes of freight likely to be handled by the rail network at 42.225 million tonnes in 2020, rising to 62.221 million tonnes in 2030 and topping 73.347 million tonnes in 2040. Daily freight volumes are estimated at 8,800 tonnes. Major freight yards are planned at Barka, Al Misfah, Sohar, Duqm and Sunainah (Buraimi), while smaller yards will come up at Suwaiq, Sinaw, Buraimi and Khatmat Malaha. Also envisaged are nine major passenger stations at Sohar, Barka, Muscat, Izki, Sinaw, Duqm, Buraimi, Sunainah, and Khatmat Malaha.
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