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Oman rail system bidding process suffers delay

Design and supervision package award for $13bn project pushed back

The proposed 1,000km-long rail network will extend from Khatmat Malah and Buraimi in the north to Duqm and Salalah in the southeast and south respecti
The proposed 1,000km-long rail network will extend from Khatmat Malah and Buraimi in the north to Duqm and Salalah in the southeast and south respecti

The award for the design and supervision package linked to the implementation of a National Rail System in Oman has suffered another delay, Oman Daily Observer reports.

The Tender Board has faxed letters to all five consortiums in the race for the multimillion-rial contract, requesting them to extend the validity of their bid bonds to October 5.

The extension - the latest in a series of such postponements, has led industry analysts to surmise that an award announcement is on the cards in the run-up to this new date.

Some of the international rail industry’s design engineering heavyweights are competing for the contract, including a partnership of AECOM (US), Cowi & Partners, DBI (Germany); a consortium of Systra (France), Parsons (US) and Atkins (UK); a group headed by Mott MacDonald (UK), Italferr SpA (Italy) and WorleyParsons (Australia); a partnership of eight Korean firms led by Korea Rail; and a consortium led by Prointec Group (Spain) that includes Spanish engineering firms Idom, Eurostudies and ALG.

The successful bidder stands to secure a four-year contract to undertake the detailed engineering design of the proposed 1,000km-long rail network, extending from Khatmat Malah and Buraimi in the north to Duqm and Salalah in the southeast and south respectively.

According to a source at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, which is overseeing the implementation of the estimated $13bn (OMR 5bn) venture, the delay has been necessitated by a desire to ensure that a strategic national project of such a scale and complexity is meticulously planned before it is tendered out.

“Since the transfer of the rail portfolio from the erstwhile Supreme Committee for Town Planning, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has been carefully examining the voluminous amounts of material generated from the outset of the project in 2008,” the official said.

“Considering the complexity and size of the investment — which is one of the largest projects currently in hand — it’s not unreasonable to expect the ministry to take a fair amount of time to come up to speed with this project,” he added.

Right now, the focus of the ministry is to determine the most sensible direction for Oman in terms of capital investment, return on investment, as other key aspects of this vital undertaking.”

He said a dedicated team set up within the ministry to drive forward the project is being assisted by a “formidable” panel of international rail experts drawn from reputable rail institutes and professional firms from around the world, notably Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia.

They include academics engaged in conducting rail-based research and studies.

It is understood that a number of key aspects of the rail project are being revisited by the ministry’s expert team in light of global developments and the significant economic changes that have occurred across Oman and the wider Gulf region since preliminary studies into the rail project were completed.

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