MUSCAT: A potential bonanza in civil construction subcontracts awaits construction firms in the Sultanate of Oman when a keenly anticipated award for the implementation of the Abu Dhabi – Suhar rail link is announced sometime in the first half of 2024.

Those opportunities will be linked to the construction of, among other works, tunnels, viaducts, culverts, wadi crossings, sand mitigation measures, roads and highway diversions, utility diversions, line side civil works and rail track work as well.

A prequalification tender floated by the Oman Etihad Rail Co LLC (OER) – a joint venture of Oman Rail and Etihad Rail – has attracted significant interest from reputable international and regional rail contractors. A number of Oman-based players have registered their interest as well, in partnership with international players.

With the Oman component representing 163 kilometres of the entire 303km-long Abu Dhabi – Suhar rail link, a significant proportion of of construction activities is expected to fall within the Sultanate of Oman.

Also envisioned for construction as part of the Oman civil package – spanning the link from Hafeet on the Oman-UAE border to Suhar - are a number of key facilities. They include a freight facility and marshalling yard at Sohar Port, a passenger station at Suhar City, a rail depot at Suhar, maintenance facilities, a second marshalling yard, and a freight facility at Hafeet.

Given the topography of the alignment through which the rail line will traverse on the Oman side, at least two major tunnels of approximately 1.7km and 1.6km respectively, are proposed to be built as part of the project. Furthermore, scores of viaducts spanning a total distance of 21 kilometres and ranging in height from 10 to over 20 metres, will be built.

Divided into a total of three packages (one in the UAE and two within Oman), the successful contractor will be required to undertake the Design Development and Detailed Design of the rail project, along with preparatory and civil works encompassing the required earthworks, rail track formation and sub-ballast. Also covered in the awardee’s scope is a broad array of civil structures, such as tunneling, special embankments and ditches for windblown sand mitigation zones, drainage basins culverts and channels, railway embankment erosion and scour protection, roads and approaches to overbridges, and signage.

Rail track related activities include a mix of direct fixation ballasted track and slab track for running rail; guard rail consisting of joints and separation blocks; special track work consisting of crossovers, turnouts, passing loop, pocket tracks, sidings, lead tracks, tail track, junctions, crossings, depot storage tracks; track equipment consisting of rails sleepers and fasteners; cable containment facilities throughout the link; and track drainage.

Interested bidders must also demonstrate proven experience in the execution of, among other things, railway under-bridges, overbridges, pipeline and other utilities crossings, camel bridges, noise barriers, tunnels (bored and cut & cover) and fencing.

When operational in about five years, the Oman-Etihad Rail Project will ignite a new wave of trade, investment, tourism and economic ties between the Sultanate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Designed for both passenger and freight traffic, the project is also anticipated to herald the revival of Oman’s national rail project, as well as spur the development of metros and rail-based zero-carbon transportation networks in upcoming ‘Smart Cities’ and urban schemes.

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