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02 May, 2016

Brakes put on Oman's rail project

Oman has decided to 'delay' its ambitious rail project connecting the Sultanate with the rest of the Gulf countries.

02 May 2016
Muscat: Oman has decided to 'delay' its ambitious rail project connecting the Sultanate with the rest of the Gulf countries to meet the schedule of other Gulf countries, a top official has said.

Contract with a private consultancy company - supposed to manage the rail project - has been cancelled as well.

"The ministry of transport and communications has not cancelled the project but only delayed it as other Gulf countries have decided to stop work on the project," Mohammed Al Shuaili, Director of the Minister of Transport and Communications Office told Times of Oman in an exclusive interview.

In January, the UAE announced suspension of Stage II tenders.

UAE's stage II involves the construction of the rail network in the Abu Dhabi linking the country to the Saudi border at Ghweifat and the Omani border at Al Ain.

Meanwhile, the Sultanate, Al Shuaili, said, has also cancelled contract with a private company "to avoid extra costs."

"It's only one company and the contract was cancelled to avoid extra costs. There is no reason to keep the contract for now to avoid falling into compensation costs," he said.

Al Shuaili wouldn't confirm when the project could be re-launched but said, "Whenever the image becomes clear in the other part of the project, the ministry can assign the company to start working on it again."

One of the private contractors present at the recent Middle East Rail Conference in Dubai and 3rd Annual Saudi Arabia Transport & Infrastructure 2016 in Riyadh said no new official time lines for the GCC Railway project were presented.

"There was just several statements off-line that the projects are delayed respectively and were being put on hold," said one contractor.

The multi-billion GCC Railway Network - a huge railway system of 2,117 km designed to connect Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Oman - was earlier slated for completion in 2018.

© Times of Oman 2016