By Elsa Baxter
A French consultancy and design firm will carry out preparatory work for the construction of Oman's section of the GCC railway project.
Systra, which specialises in for mass transit and rail, will conduct a four-month study into track alignment for the first phase of the railway, which will run from Muscat to the port city of Sohar, officials close to the project said.
The Supreme Committee for Town Planning, which is overseeing Oman's section of the project, will then issue tenders for the design of the 230km Muscat-Sohar section.
"We expect to issue tenders for the phase two alignment study in four to six months," a senior official on the planning committee told the Times of Oman.
The overall GCC railway will be 1,500km long and it is hoped will eliminate congestion and allow the faster transfer of goods between countries, by providing greater capacity for freight movement.
Oman's planning committee is also due to appoint a consultant to carry out an alignment study for the second phase, which will run 560km along the coast from the capital to the town of Duqm, where a US $1.8 billion (OMR692 million) port and dry dock complex is being built.
Oman plans to build two rail tracks – a slow passenger and freight service, followed by an express passenger line.
The Sultanate is reported to have awarded $571 million worth infrastructure projects so far this year.