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Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Batinah Railway design and implementation study to kick off shortly

Oman - 2009 March 28

A joint venture team of consultants from France and Oman will shortly launch work on a study that will pave the way for the design and implementation of the first ever railway system in the Sultanate. The brief, but hugely significant, study by Systra Consulting and its local partner National Engineering Office (NEO), will also lay the groundwork upon which a national rail network will eventually be developed and integrated with the ambitious inter-GCC railway project.

The focus of the Systra-NEO study is the Batinah region -- an area with prodigious potential for industrial and economic development. The joint venture's mandate is to define the broad scope and elements of a rail system that will initially run the length of the Batinah region, and eventually extend to other economic hubs and population centres around the Sultanate. The Batinah Rail system is envisaged to run parallel to the equally ambitious Batinah Expressway -- a new roughly 260 km superhighway that starts from Halban Road near Naseem roundabout in Barka, and terminates at Khatmat Malaha near Oman's border with the United Arab Emirates.

A key task before Systra, an international specialist in rail and urban transport planning services, is to review the suitability of the proposed track alignment of the Batinah Railway project. The alignment is based on a route study undertaken by NESPAK & Partners. The joint venture will weigh alternative routes and diversions, particularly in areas where the proposed track alignment intersects with sensitive installations of the Ministry of Defence, existing dam projects of the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, and the Special Economic Zone at Sohar.

Further, the consultants will look at a possible route for the future southward extension of the Batinah rail network towards Duqm and Salalah. In identifying the broad outlines of a rail system in the Batinah, the Systra-NEO JV will also study passenger traffic projections over a 25-year period, and how these passenger volumes will be shared among the three main transportation modes -- rail, road and air. A similar study will also look at freight traffic -- either imported or generated locally -- with the aim of estimating the demand for rail-based freight transport.

Based on the traffic forecasts, the JV will propose a 'Conceptual Operation Schedule' setting out the type of rail service catering to passenger traffic, on the one hand, and freight traffic, on the other. It will spell out the features of the local and long-distance passenger trains that will ply along the Batinah, as well as the type of rolling stock necessary, train frequencies, running times, and so on. Also as part of the study, the JV will weigh the benefits of adopting the universally prescribed standards of the International Union of Railway (UIC) in designing the national railway network, or alternatively modifying these standards to bring it into harmony with standards already embraced by the GCC railway project.

Determining suitable design speeds for passenger and freight trains will also be a key objective of the Systra study. In recommending suitable design speeds, the experts will take into account the terrain, standard of services, construction costs and harmonisation with the GCC railway network. Importantly, the consultants will also weigh the pros and cons of a single-track and double-track rail system, as well as the merits of initially launching a one-track network and subsequently augmenting it with a second track as traffic volumes grow.

Possible corridors for branch lines to the Port of Sohar will be considered as well.

Additionally, the team will assess the number and location of stations required along the proposed route. The JV will specify if these stations shall be designed for local passenger train traffic, as well as long distance traffic. The type and typical layout of the stations, considering that the railway line will run alongside the Expressway for the most part, will be determined as well. While marshalling yards will initially be located at Barka and Sohar, the JV will also consider the need for another yard close to Oman's border with the UAE. At Sohar, the location of the marshalling yard will be determined in consultation with the Port of Sohar authorities. Also included in the study is the main mode of electrification necessary to power the trains.

Based on the recommendations of the JV, the Supreme Committee for Town Planning -- which is overseeing the development of a rail network in the Sultanate -- is expected to float a tender for a full-fledged feasibility study and design of the Batinah Railway project. Last December, Gulf Co-operation Council leaders attending the 19th GCC Summit in Muscat approved plans for a Gulf-wide rail system that will link the six member states. The roughly 2,000-km network will eventually connect Salalah on Oman's southern coast with Kuwait's border with Iraq.

The USD14 billion project is likely to be operational during the 2016-18 timeframe.

Source: Oman Daily Observer

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Plans underway for rail system in Muscat

Oman - 2009 July 6

With the concept of a railway system in the Batinah region having since grown into a wider North Oman network, an extension into Muscat, experts say, is the next logical step in the evolution of the Sultanate’s ambitious rail initiative. Indeed, a rail link in the capital city will be in line with the current GCC-wide trend towards rail-based passenger and freight transportation services. Multi-billion-dollar schemes for metros, high-speed networks, and even tram systems, are in various stages of design and development all across the Gulf region. First off the block will be the UAE emirate of Dubai with the scheduled launch of its Red Line metro in September this year.

Oman’s authorities have already made impressive headway in conceptualising the broad outlines of a rail system in the Sultanate. That effort is being spearheaded by the Supreme Committee for Town Planning (SCTP), a key organ of the Ministry of National Economy. A landmark study into the feasibility of a rail system in the Batinah region has rapidly burgeoned in scope since it was commissioned early this year. New alignments and branch lines have been added to the scope of the study, underscoring the promising nature of Oman’s nascent efforts to embrace rail based travel.

What initially began as the study of a 260-kilometre alignment from Barka to Khatmat Malaha near Oman’s border with the UAE has grown even more ambitious. The potential for a 120km branch line, running from Falaj al Qabail in Sohar to Al Ain via Al Buraimi in the Dhahirah region, has been added to the project. More recently, authorities have been exploring the potential for an extension of the proposed Batinah rail system into the capital region. Choosing a suitable alignment through Muscat will not be an easy task, experts say, given the scale of urbanisation in the capital city and the ruggedness of the surrounding terrain.

In the circumstances, Al Ansab is seen as an ideal junction for a rail line that extends south of the Barka — Khatmat Malaha network. With Al Ansab as the junction, one line is envisaged to run onward into the heart of the city, while another will veer westwards towards Duqm and Salalah beyond. The alignment of an extension from Barka to Al Ansab, which will add a further 40-odd kilometres to the Batinah rail network, will necessarily have to run beyond the under-construction Muscat Expressway, experts point out. That would take it largely through hilly terrain.

Importantly, the shape of a rail system within the city, experts say, will depend largely on traffic impact studies currently being undertaken by the Supreme Committee’s specialist consultants. French-based international rail consultants Systra Consulting, together with their local partner National Engineering Office (NEO), are studying the broad scope and elements of a rail system that will initially run the length of the Batinah region, and eventually extend to other economic hubs and population centres around the Sultanate. While a passenger line will doubtless be part of the proposed network in the city, a freight component will depend on what the government has in store for Port Sultan Qaboos.

With traffic congestion in the city stymieing efforts to expand the port, the government has commissioned international consultant W S Atkins to study the potential for redeveloping the gateway into a tourism facility. Any decision to convert the port into a tourism facility would entail a downscaling of freight volumes shipped in and out of Muscat, consequently diminishing prospects for a freight rail line through the city.

Ongoing alignment and traffic impact studies are also key to determining whether Muscat will get a metro or a ground-level rail system, or a combination of both, experts point out. Either way, the rail network will be designed for high-speed transportation. Eventually, the network will be linked to an inter-GCC rail project that will crisscross all six member states. The roughly 2,000-km network will eventually connect Salalah on Oman’s southern coast with Kuwait’s border with Iraq. The $14 billion project is likely to be operational during the 2016-18 timeframe.

Source: Oman Observer

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Oman plans to invite bids in December for the construction of a 230 km railway, part of a planned Gulf Arab network valued at up to $25 billion, a tender board official said on Monday.

"Many international firms such as a Chinese company have shown interest ... (in bidding) for the first phase, for which we expect to issue the tender in December," a tender board official told Reuters.

Neighbouring United Arab Emirates is planning an $8 billion railway system and the regional network is expected to cost $20-$25 billion.

A tender for a second phase will be issued next year, the official said. "The third phase, which is under study, will involve a railway network construction from the south of Oman to Yemen, expected to be tendered out in 2010," he added.

French railway transport infrastructure services company Systra is consultant for the railway projects.-Reuters

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Oman is planning a new rail network from the Batinah region to its border with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

A feasibility study for the project is being carried out by French firm Systra Consulting and Oman's National Engineering Office and is expected to be finished before the end of 2009.

The project involves building a rail system running the length of the Batinah region with links to Al Buraimi near the UAE border. Further extensions to Duqm and Salalah are also under planning.

The study includes delineating the Batinah Railway network into three key sections, a nearly 260 km section from Barka to Khatmat Malaha on Oman's northern border with the UAE, a nearly 30 km section from Barka to Rusayl and a nearly 110 km branch line from Sohar to Al Buraimi.

The project would be undertaken by the Supreme Committee for Town Planning. A contract for the engineering design consultancy services is expected to be awarded by mid-2010.

The mostly double-track broad-gauge network, which would initially serve freight trains, will be integrated into an inter-Gulf Cooperation Council rail system in the future.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Ashurst

United Arab Emirates: Runaway Train? Middle East Rail Infrastructure To See Spending Boom

05 November 2009

The rolling sand dunes of the Middle Eastern desert have historically only been negotiated by Bedouin, dromedary and Wilfred Thesiger and, more recently, by the ubiquitous 4x4. In terms of mechanised public transport, much of the Middle East is virtually a blank canvas. However, because of their rapidly growing populations1 and increasingly congested roads, coupled with an increased recognition of the role that quality transport infrastructure has to play in fostering and sustaining economic development, many of the governments in the region are urgently amending their infrastructure development plans to include new rail systems for both passengers and freight.

It is clear that the current economic downturn and the difficulties in sourcing long-tenor project finance is impacting the Middle Eastern projects market. That said, there remains a great swathe of very significant Middle Eastern rail projects slated for the next three to five years or more. Some Middle Eastern governments are able to call on a healthy cushion of petrodollars (or the proceeds of a recent spate of sovereign bonds, such as the Abu Dhabi Government's US$3bn sovereign bond issue in April 2009) to procure their projects via "traditional" means; others do not have this luxury and are pursuing the public private partnerships (PPP) model; still others have the petrodollars but still seek to utilise PPP project structures because of the perceived efficiencies they bring. These factors, together with an increase in Islamic, multi-tranched and multilateral financings, mean that the pipeline of deals, however they are structured, remains strong.

It is reported that the Gulf states are projected to spend more than US$100bn on rail projects in the coming years. These projects include the US$4.2bn Dubai Metro system, Abu Dhabi's Surface Transport Master Plan and Bahrain's US$8.13bn six-lane, 184 km rail line. Perhaps not all of these projects will survive the credit crunch; it seems, however, that governments are determined that a great many will.

Projected growth of the light rail market 2005-2015 (% per year)2

Traditionally the Middle East has faced many barriers to the implementation of public transport networks: barriers such as the difficult summer climate and the perceived cultural preference for private over public transport. However, whether it has been the mass influx to countries like the UAE of ex-pats accustomed to a daily train commute in their home countries, or the congested roads and high frequency of traffic accidents, there has recently been a seismic shift in the mindset of the rulers in the region. In June 2009, Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, the world's first carbon-neutral city, won its bid to become the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency, representing an opportunity for the UAE to become a future global centre for development of renewable energy technologies. This will, no doubt, boost local awareness of "green" living, adding further momentum to the demands for public transport in the region.

Almost every country in the Middle East region has announced plans for massive infrastructure spending in the transport sector. There even seems to be an element of competition between the states to have the best rail network and, as a result, the previously overlooked concept of a public transport system is fast becoming yet another important status symbol in the region.

UAE

In addition to the plans of individual emirates discussed below, the UAE also has ambitious plans for a country-wide, federal rail system – the "Union Railway" project – which aims to link the seven emirates of the UAE3 by rail, initially for freight and then for passenger traffic. The project is being overseen by the Union Railway Company, a state-owned vehicle which has recently launched various studies into the environmental, social and economic impact of the project throughout the seven emirates and which recently recruited the former chief executive of the UK's National Express railway company. According to a MEED report of 8 July 2009, the UAE Federal Government has now also approved a bill to set up the "Etihad Trains Company", with start-up capital of AED1bn (US$272m). This entity will also be state-owned and will buy, sell and lease railway rolling stock and invest in the Union Railway project throughout the UAE. The first 574 km phase of the project, linking Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is due for completion by mid-2011. A second 246 km phase will connect Dubai to the northern and eastern emirates. The entire network is scheduled for completion by 2015.

Abu Dhabi

The Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, has published its urban structure framework entitled "Plan Abu Dhabi 2030". Part of that plan is a commitment to establishing a world-class sustainable public transport network. The "Surface Transport Master Plan" (see further below), in conjunction with Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, is a major initiative taken by the Department of Transport (DoT) to develop a comprehensive plan for surface transport. Abu Dhabi has signed the International Association of Public Transport's Charter on Sustainable Development, as well as publicly committing to sustainable transportation in Plan Abu Dhabi 2030.

The Surface Transport Master Plan (STMP)

The STMP reveals that, in addition to the high-speed passenger rail link with Dubai, the Government plans to construct:

a freight rail line connecting the new port, the Abu Dhabi International Airport and Jebel Ali;

a metro system;

a light rail transit/tram system; and

a bus network with dedicated bus lanes.

The DoT has said that a key element of its plan is the privatisation of transport services through the PPP model.

Metro and monorail

The DoT estimates that the proposed metro system will be 131 km in length (much of which will be underground) with an estimated cost of US$7bn. One line will run from Saadiyat Island and Al Mina to downtown Abu Dhabi and out to what will be the Grand Mosque District, Capital District and Raha Beach. The other line will traverse the city's downtown area from east to west, connecting Al Reem and Al Suwwah to Marina Mall. The monorail track (part of the metro project) is expected to be 31 km long and include 15 two-coach trains running at five-minute intervals. The table overleaf sets out the projected timescales for the project.

Light rail transit/tram

The proposed LRT/tram system will consist of 340 km of tram line and, according to the DoT, is due to open in 2014. It will connect with the proposed metro system once this has been completed. In July 2009, the DoT invited prequalified consulting firms to submit bids for an 18-month study into the proposed tram system. The selected consultant will help the DoT assess feasibility and financial viability of the project, and prepare initial designs for stations and other technical specifications.

Anticipated timeframe for Abu Dhabi Metro project4

Phase Schedule Description

Design 17 July 2009 Six consultancy firms shortlisted for consultancy contract:

Adapt Consortium (Aecom, DB International, Parsons Brinkerhoff)

Atkins/Bovis Lend Lease

Dar al-Handasah, Egis, Gestisa, Inco Tifsa

Mott MacDonald, Parsons International, Halcrow

Adim Consortium (Coteba, Khatib & Alaani, Oberymeyer, ILF Consulting Engineering, Hamburg Consult, Dornier)

Systra, Arup, Lowi, Foster & Partners

 Q4 2009 Consultancy contract expected to be awarded

Construction 2011 Construction expected to commence

Completion 2016 Project expected to be completed

Dubai

Dubai has advanced its rail plans further than most other governments in the Middle East but perhaps presents fewer new opportunities going forward than elsewhere in the region.

Palm Jumeirah Monorail

The 5.5 km Palm Jumeirah Monorail, a US$381m project commissioned by Nakheel, officially opened on 5 May this year, having been designed and built by a Hitachi/Marubeni/Mitsui/Obayashi consortium (advised by Ashurst). The driverless system now runs the length of Palm Jumeirah, and its current capacity of four trains and 2,400 passengers per hour is set to increase to a total of 6,000 passengers per hour by way of nine trains once it is connected to the Dubai Metro via the Al Sufouh tramline (see below).

Al Sufouh Tram

Phase 1 of the US$1.1bn Al Sufouh tram system is currently under construction by Alstom and Besix and the operations mandate is in the final stages of procurement (with Ashurst advising one of the bidders). Once it has been completed, the tram system is intended to serve between 180,000 and 220,000 commuters, linking up residential areas with places of work, shopping malls, tourist attractions and the Dubai Metro (see below). The long-term plan had been to construct 270 km of tram network in Dubai on seven different tram routes. However, in December 2008, it was announced that, owing to market conditions, Phase 2 of the Al Sufouh project would be put on hold. This suggests that the plans for an extensive tram network are now somewhat uncertain.

Dubai Metro

The US$4.2bn Dubai Metro project commissioned by the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will be the first of its kind on the Arabian Peninsula when the 54 km Red Line opens on 9 September 2009. Construction of the Red and Green Lines is being carried out by the Dubai Rapid Link Consortium by way of an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contract and these lines will be operated and maintained by Serco (advised by Ashurst). The Green Line is schedule for completion in March 2010. The RTA has announced plans for a total of eight metro lines including an extension to both the Red and Green Lines and a new Purple Line (connecting Dubai International Airport with Al Maktoum International Airport) in Q4 2013 and the Blue Line (which will run along Emirates Road) in 2014. However, the latter two lines are still at the planning stage. Given recent funding constraints, there is now speculation that the Purple Line will be structured as a PPP project. It remains to be seen if and when the other planned lines will be brought to market.

In February 2009, the RTA officially appointed the UK's Office of Rail Regulation to provide consultancy services in relation to the development of railway safety standards and a system of enforcement to apply to the Dubai Metro. Ashurst recently drafted legislation for the regulation of all railways and railway infrastructure in Dubai.

Dubai monorail open to the public5

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is considered by many to be the fastest growing infrastructure market in the Middle East region, with an estimated US$283bn worth of projects currently under construction (although many of these will have been adversely affected by the recent reductions in oil prices that so affect KSA's revenues).

Rail expansion programme

KSA represents one of the most important, if troubled, rail markets in the region. The Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) has developed an expansion programme comprising three major projects. The first of these is the North-South freight line, starting in the north-western region of the KSA, passing through Riyadh and with extensions to Hazm Al-Jalamid (to haul phosphate) and to the Gulf, where a major port will be constructed for the exportation of minerals. This project is already under construction (the latest section, between Riyadh and Qassim, having recently been awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation).

The second project is the "Saudi Landbridge" which will link the Red Sea to the Arabian Gulf via a new freight and passenger line. The project consists of the construction of a new 950 km railway from Jeddah to Riyadh and 115 km of track between Dammam and Al-Jubail Industrial City, as well as some upgrade work on the existing Riyadh-Dammam line.

The Landbridge has had a much publicised difficult history and those difficulties are very much ongoing. Originally packaged as a BOT (build, operate and transfer) PPP scheme, it had serious structural problems hindering its bankability: its huge debt requirement (especially in the current climate), the unappetising transfer of demand risk to the private sector and the difficulties of a 50-year concession period. These problems were never really solved and the tender process rather lurched from one state of paralysis to the next. There was a bid and then a re-bid; a preferred bidder was announced, then suspended, then merged with the reserve bidder. Finally, after eight months or more of delays, the SRO recently announced that the US$7bn project is now to be funded by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of the Saudi Government and will be retendered on an EPC basis. The market therefore now awaits those revised tenders, which are expected to follow a similar structure successfully adopted by the HHR project (in respect of which see below).

The third project is the US$6bn, 444 km Haramain high-speed rail link (HHR) connecting Makkah and Madinah, and passing through Rabigh and Jeddah. There is an urgent need for this line to accommodate the growing numbers of pilgrims travelling to Makkah for Hajj each year. This project was originally mooted as a PPP scheme, but in light of the difficulties experienced by the Landbridge, was restructured into a series of traditionally procured packages. The first phase of this project, the civil contracting package, was won by the Al Rajhi Alliance (which Ashurst advised). The SRO issued invitations to bid on the second phase of this project at the start of July 2009, with the four pre-qualified consortia6 having until the end of October 2009 to submit their bids. The winning consortium will provide rolling stock as well as operation and maintenance services. The tender process for the construction phase of package two is expected to begin in November 2009.

Aside from these "major" projects, the expansion plan also lists a number of "projects under study", such as the expansion of existing lines to Gizan and Yanbu, Al Taaf and Khamis Mesheet. KSA also has a number of other significant rail schemes in procurement or under construction including, for example:

a (US$400m) monorail at Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University for Women in Riyadh (the construction of which was recently won by a consortium led by Saudi Binladin with Italy's Ansaldo (which will supply systems) and AnsaldoBreda (which will supply rolling stock);

a (US$1.7bn) monorail linking Makkah with the other holy cities of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah which is under construction by a consortium led by the China Railway Company. According to a report by Arabian Business on 31 August 2009, studies are now under way on extending the monorail and linking it to the HHR project referred to above; and

the Arriyadh Development Authority has been planning a metro system for Riyadh for some time. Dar Al Handasah is designing a 40 km project which appears to comprise two LRT lines along Olaya Street and Prince Abdullah Road. Components are reported to include a mixed alignment at-grade, elevated and underground with 40 stations, transportation centre, depot, and park-and-ride facilities. It remains to be seen when this project will be brought to market and under what project structure.

It seems, then, that the pipeline of Saudi rail schemes remains strong, but that the Kingdom has set its face against PPP structures for the time being.

Egypt

Egypt faces a completely different challenge to most of the rest of the Middle East – it has a legacy rail system, but one that needs a great deal of work to bring it up to the standard that modern Egypt demands. Egypt's rail network, which is the most extensive in the Middle East, was developed during the British colonial period. Opportunities therefore abound in Egypt for upgrading, modernising and improving the safety of the existing network (the second oldest in the world) and extending it to meet the requirements of mass tourism and a growing population.

Egyptian National Railways (ENR) oversees a network of over 9,000 km of railways, carrying more than 1.5m passengers each day. ENR officials have publicly stated the need to upgrade the railway's assets in order to ensure safe operation, improve service quality and increase freight capability.

Rail upgrade programme

The Egyptian Ministry of Transport is seeking private sector involvement based on a PPP model for the development of several proposed new rail lines, such as the LE4bn (US$721m) Cairo to 10th of Ramadan City line which is expected to be awarded in early 2010, as well as the Alexandria to Borg Al Arab and Cairo to 6th of October City links.

The private sector will also be invited to play a role in the commercialisation of railway stations. Stations earmarked for this include Alexandria's main station, Sidi Gaber, Tanta, Ramses, Giza, Luxor and Aswan.

The Egypt-Sudan link

The Egypt-Sudan Railway Committee is making plans for the construction of 500 km of track (450 km on the Egyptian side and 50 km in Sudan) to connect the railway systems of the two countries. However, this initiative is being impeded by the different railway gauges which exist in each country.

Cairo Underground

The Cairo Underground system is the oldest in Africa and the Middle East and is the backbone transportation service in Cairo.

There are currently two operational lines: Line 1 (New El-Marg to Helwan) and Line 2 (Qalubeya to Mounib) with a third (Imbaba to Airport) under construction and two more (Nasr City to Shoubra and Maadi to Shoubra) in the pipeline.

Jordan

His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan announced in April this year that the implementation of the railway network programme8 will commence later this year. The Jordanian Cabinet has approved the allocation of JD350m (US$493m) from the 2009/2010 state budget to acquire the land necessary for the project, and acquisitions are reportedly already under way. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Transport concluded a tender process to appoint consultants to assist it in structuring the delivery of its rail projects.

The rail network is set to link major centres in Jordan (Aqaba, Amman, Zarqa, Mafraq, Irbid) with each other. Apart from a small number of locations, the entire system is intended to operate initially in single track, running either single or double International Union of Railways standard length trains (750-1,500 m in length) powered by diesel locomotives. The estimated overall length of the completed rail system is 1,600 km, with the initial infrastructure development cost estimated at JD2.7bn (US$3.8bn), excluding rolling stock, terminals and fixed maintenance facilities.

Notably, in 2003, during meetings of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Jordan was among 13 Arab countries that agreed on a railway linkage system which envisaged those countries implementing internal railway networks within 10-15 years. Member countries of this regional project include the six Gulf states along with Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen and Egypt.

However, it should be noted that Jordan's first rail PPP scheme, the Amman-Zarqa railway, has had an unhappy history to date. Two consortia have been appointed and removed as preferred bidder since March 2008, having been unable to bring the project to close. Recent reports have indicated that the project may now be divided into packages restructured as a public procurement.

Algeria

Algeria has around 4,000 km of existing railway, much of which, like that of Egypt, is in desperate need of modernisation. As a result, the Algerian Government has developed a very ambitious pipeline of rail projects estimated at around US$3.7bn in value.

In the summer of 2009, Anserif (the rail agency of the Algerian Transport Ministry) invited bids for the US$1.5bn "High Plateau railway" – a passenger and freight railway running from east to west across the country. The project is divided into four packages covering 630 km of new track and lines running from Moulay Slissen to Tiaret, from Tissemsilt to Boughezoul, from Relizane to Tissemsilt via Tiaret, and from Boughezoul to M'Sila9.

Thales recently won a contract to electrify 400 km of track in the west of Algeria, and Anserif is planning on re-tendering a US$794m contract to electrify the existing east-west rail line.

Separately, a full feasibility study has been announced into the US$1bn "Boucle du Sud" freight railway which is focused on the transportation of oil exports in the south of the country. Finally, a study has recently been launched for a new 280 km electrified railway line between El-Bayadh and Djelfa.

Bahrain

A feasibility study is under way to establish a BHD3.06bn (US$8.12bn) rail plan as the Gulf island seeks to ease congestion, reduce noise and pollution caused by traffic congestion and reduce the high number of fatal accidents.

The rail network plan

The invitation to bid for the main construction contract of the rail network had been expected to be issued in Q4 2009, and to include plans for a tramway, a light rail transit and a metro system. A bus system and a monorail are also being considered. Bahrain envisages building the 184 km network in three phases, with completion of all phases expected by 2033. The programme had been expected to kick off in 2009/10, but a report in Arabian Business on 30 August 2009 indicated that this scheme will be delayed by a year due to funding difficulties.

Light rail transit (LRT)

The first of the lines to be implemented as part of the LRT are the Red and Green Lines. The Red Line will run from Bahrain International Airport through the Diplomatic Area and is intended to be operational by 2014, while the Green Line will link the Juffair area with Al Fateh Highway and the Manama area and is expected to be completed in 2016. Four other rail links will be added to the network, based on a 2006 study.

Metro rail transit (MRT)

The rail network will also consist of an MRT system, capable of speeds of up to 60 km/h and transporting up to 60,000 passengers per hour.

Kuwait

Transport masterplan

A Kuwait Municipality-commissioned study of the whole country's land-based transport requirements is currently being undertaken by a consortium of Atkins (UK), Parsons Brinckerhoff (US) and Gulf Consult (Kuwait) who have also been charged with developing a Kuwaiti transport masterplan. The masterplan will determine whether a light rail or a metro scheme will best meet the country's needs. The Kuwaiti Government is also developing plans for freight lines as part of the heavy rail network.

Metro

The Kuwait City US$7bn four-line metro project was originally conceived by the Kuwait Overland Transport Union (KOTU) but is on hold pending the outcome of the study mentioned above. Provided the study gives the green light to the metro project, the involvement of the private sector may be sought through a PPP model. It is envisaged that four special purpose companies will be set up, one for each metro line, and that these companies will appoint contractors on a BOT basis. The invitation to bid for the construction contracts is expected to be issued in 2011 and completion of the project is currently scheduled for 2016. It is envisaged that the project would be financed by way of an IPO of one or more of the special purpose companies, with the Government and KOTU retaining a minority interest.

Transport authorities

The allocation of responsibility for transportation projects in Kuwait is rather complex (and potentially inefficient) since various government bodies are responsible for different areas. Kuwait Municipality oversees all land-based transport with the exception of heavy rail, and its masterplan will encompass taxis, buses and light rail. If it is concluded that the metro should be built, responsibility for the project will then pass to the Public Works Ministry which may form a new railway authority to oversee the project.

Qatar

Qatar Railway's development plans form part of a colossal US$25bn investment to upgrade transport infrastructure in the country by 2014. Originally motivated by a bid for the 2016 Olympic Games and now by a desire to bid for forthcoming worldwide sporting events such as the 2020 Olympics and the FIFA World Cup in 2022, it is also intended to aid diversification of the economy by boosting tourism. Deutsche Bahn International won the US$1.1bn consultancy deal for the project in August 2008, and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company (the government-owned investment company) has been appointed to oversee the project (at least initially). The initial plan was for the proposed railway network to consist of five elements:

an east coast freight and passenger line, linking Ras Laffan, the New Doha International Airport, Doha and Mesaieed;

a high-speed link between the New Doha International Airport, Doha city centre, and the Kingdom of Bahrain via the planned 45 km Friendship Causeway bridge (to be the world's longest causeway);

a freight link connecting into the proposed 1,500 km GCC rail network (see below);

a 140 km light rail network linking new developments north of Doha such as Westbay, Lusail and Education City; and

a Doha metro system consisting of six lines based on the Qatar Transport Master Plan.

The first tender for construction works has just been released by the New Doha International Airport Steering Committee, which recently invited tenders to build a train station at the US$11bn New Doha International Airport10. This will be the terminus for an express airport link that will link the new airport to downtown Doha and other rail networks.

We anticipate that tenders for consultancy services in relation to the national network will be released to market in 2010.

Oman

In 2008, Muscat's Supreme Committee for Town Planning launched a feasibility study covering the development of a National Railway Network, with French consultant Systra leading the study. The study covers both freight and passenger rail, examining potential lines, routes for those lines and the need for local passenger services as well as those to service long distance traffic.

The details have yet to be finalised as the study is ongoing, but a recent report in the Oman Daily Observer (13 June 2009) describes a final network (valued at US$14bn) "of roughly 2,000 km that will eventually connect Salalah on Oman's southern coast with Kuwait's border with Iraq", envisaging that this will be operational around 2016-2018. The Sultanate is reported to be considering both publicly and privately financed options. The network is expected to include a connection between Barka and Dhinas, a link with the ambitious port and industrial complex at Duqm on the Wusta coast and also with the ports of Sohar and Port Sultan Qaboos in Muscat. Most recently, the addition of the "Batinah Rail System" into the network has been considered – a 120 km link between Sohar and Al Ain on the UAE border. The intention is that the Omani National Rail Network will eventually link up with and form part of the GCC railway (in respect of which see below).

Clearly, considerable work remains to be done before Omani rail projects are brought to market, but the process is under way and the scale of what is sought is certainly ambitious.

GCC rail network

The GCC Railway is perhaps the most ambitious of all the rail projects currently in the planning stages. The project involves an estimated 1,940 km rail network linking the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)11: Kuwait, KSA, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman (with a possible future extension to Yemen).

This hugely ambitious project is still some way from fruition, the practicalities of such a large and multinational scheme being particularly challenging. The project is currently part of the transport plans of each of the GCC States. The final study for the whole route12 was presented to the GCC Secretariat in May 2009. The project is estimated to be worth US$11.2bn (construction costs), plus US$3.1bn (land acquisition), and is scheduled for completion in Q1 2016. The management structure is currently being decided, with the favoured option apparently being that of a jointly-owned company with equity contributed by each member.

A final decision as to whether to grant approval for the project is expected from all six GCC member nations by the end of Q3 2009.

Personal rapid transit (PRT)

And (almost) finally: a brief word about a futuristic public transportation system known as a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system, which is currently under development in Abu Dhabi. A PRT system is effectively an automated, eco-friendly taxi service providing a non-stop journey in the comfort of a private vehicle.

In Masdar City (see above) it is planned that there will be a system of 3,000 operational PRTs providing up to 135,000 trips per day between 85 PRT stops, each journey taking a maximum of seven minutes (since Masdar is only 6 km2 in area). The Masdar City PRTs would be powered entirely by renewable resources (rechargeable batteries). Being very light, they would not require heavy tracks or support structures: rather they would have tyres and run over light "guideways" made of low carbon concrete, thereby keeping construction costs low. Construction of the city is planned to be carried out in seven phases, and is currently scheduled for completion by 2016. The PRT section would be built in stages spanning the construction phases.

This system is, without doubt, a hugely ambitious endeavour, not least from a technical perspective. It has a greater chance of success at Masdar City because the population there is only intended to reach 50,000, whereas within larger developments such a system would risk becoming overloaded during peak hours.

Other MENA opportunities

This briefing is by nature selective. Other countries in the MENA region are also likely to seek rail-based solutions to their transport infrastructure problems: Iraq is likely to do so as part of its regeneration plans; Iran has a number of projects on the go and Libya will doubtless include rail in its nationwide infrastructure regeneration plans. There are even plans mooted to link the Gulf to Europe and also to link the entire length of the Mediterranean coast from Morocco to Egypt.

Conclusion

The fundamentals for growth of the rail industry in the Middle East are very strong. The populations of many countries within the region are young and growing fast and the strain on the existing road infrastructure is increasingly apparent. The drivers for the rush towards rail solutions are clear: improved economic performance, improved quality of life and the desire to develop countries that are currently at an incredibly dynamic phase of their evolution. The challenges are also apparent: the effects of the credit crunch on public and private finances; frequently inefficient tender processes; often a lack of sufficient regulatory cohesion to name but a few. It remains to be seen how many of the projects listed above will be structured as PPP projects in one form or another. Clearly many will not but, that notwithstanding, the short to medium term pipeline looks strong.

Notes

1 Gulf states are witnessing an annual population increase of between 5 and 10 per cent.

2 Figures taken from UNIFE Rail Market Study.

3 Source: MEED, 12 June 2009.

4 Source: http://www.zawya.com and http://www.meed.com.

5 Photo: © Nakheel PJSC.

6 The four pre-qualified consortia are the Al-Raihi Alliance led by the Mada Group; the Saudi Binladin Group/Obrascon Huarte Lain; the Saudi Oger consortium; and a Saudi-Japanese group led by Acwa Power and Mitsubishi.

7 Source: http://www.saudirailways.org/about_future_en.htm.

8 Based on the "Study of the Railway Development Strategy" undertaken over a two-year period by the joint venture of CPCS Transcom (Canada) and Dar al Handasah (Amman, Beirut, Cairo and London).

9 Source: MEED, 5 May 2009.

10 Source: MEED, 28 August 2009.

11 The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council, is a trade bloc involving the six Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Created on 25 May 1981, the 630- million-acre (2,500,000 km2) Council comprises the Persian Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

12 Undertaken by Systra (France), Khatib and Alami (Lebanon) and Canarail (Canada).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

current progress on the Gulf railway project.

32 bid for the national railway project in Oman

Friday, 02 Jul, 2010

The Sultanate began plans for the building of national railways to boost the country's infrastructure.

The Tender Board recently opened bids for the project and 32 international companies from Britain, Russia, France,

Germany, Malaysia, the United States and China bid for the pre qualification stage.

Mr Salim bin Mohammed al Affani GM of Urban Planning at the Supreme Committee for Town Planning said that the

railway project will be carried out in a bid to meet the requirements of comprehensive development and sustainable growth.

The project will also cap the efforts of GCC leaders towards full integration among member states which are bound to be

linked via a regional railway grid.

Mr Al Affani said that the Sultanate's railway project consists of 4 sections, which are the Sohar Muscat section which will

have 8 passenger stations and some cargo stops; the Muscat Duqm section which will have 2 cargo stations and 9 passenger

stations; the Sohar Buraimi section with 2 cargo stations and 4 passenger stations and Sohar Khatmat Melaha section which

will have 1 cargo station and 4 passenger stations.

He said that the components of the railway project will be under study and will be reassessed at the completion of the detailed

engineering designs. There will be coordination with the parties whose lands will be traversed by the railway.

Mr Al Affani said that the specifications approved for the railway project in the Sultanate tally with the GCC specifications.

He said that in the Sultanate, approval has been given for the construction of 2 lines for the railway track which will be

operated at a speed of 200 kilometers per hour for passenger trains and 80 kilometers to 120 kilometers for cargo trains.

Specification of the track takes into consideration a speed of 350 kilometers per hour.

Mr Al Affani pointed out that the trains will be operated by electricity and that the same GCC traffic light and

communication code will be used. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Transport and Communications announced it completed

the economic feasibility study of the part of the grid which links Oman with the United Arab Emirates in preparation for

linkage with a common 1940 kilometers long GCC network, of which 306 kilometers fall within the section linking the

Sultanate with the United Arab Emirates.

(Sourced from Oman Daily Observer)

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Friday, 02 Jul 2010

The Sultanate began plans for the building of national railways to boost the country's infrastructure.

The Tender Board recently opened bids for the project and 32 international companies from Britain, Russia, France, Germany, Malaysia, the United States and China bid for the pre qualification stage.

Mr Salim bin Mohammed al Affani GM of Urban Planning at the Supreme Committee for Town Planning said that the railway project will be carried out in a bid to meet the requirements of comprehensive development and sustainable growth. The project will also cap the efforts of GCC leaders towards full integration among member states which are bound to be linked via a regional railway grid.

Mr Al Affani said that the Sultanate's railway project consists of 4 sections, which are the Sohar Muscat section which will have 8 passenger stations and some cargo stops; the Muscat Duqm section which will have 2 cargo stations and 9 passenger stations; the Sohar Buraimi section with 2 cargo stations and 4 passenger stations and Sohar Khatmat Melaha section which will have 1 cargo station and 4 passenger stations.

He said that the components of the railway project will be under study and will be reassessed at the completion of the detailed engineering designs. There will be coordination with the parties whose lands will be traversed by the railway.

Mr Al Affani said that the specifications approved for the railway project in the Sultanate tally with the GCC specifications. He said that in the Sultanate, approval has been given for the construction of 2 lines for the railway track which will be operated at a speed of 200 kilometres per hour for passenger trains and 80 kilometres to 120 kilometres for cargo trains. Specification of the track takes into consideration a speed of 350 kilometres per hour.

Mr Al Affani pointed out that the trains will be operated by electricity and that the same GCC traffic light and communication code will be used. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Transport and Communications announced it completed the economic feasibility study of the part of the grid which links Oman with the United Arab Emirates in preparation for linkage with a common 1940 kilometres long GCC network, of which 306 kilometres fall within the section linking the Sultanate with the United Arab Emirates.

(Sourced from Oman Daily Observer)

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Oman, Volume 217

28.07.2010

A raft of new agreements recently signed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications will see a significant round of investment in Oman’s transport infrastructure. The 15 agreements, signed earlier in July, cover projects in land, sea and air infrastructure and are worth a total of OR136.9m ($355.9m).

The most significant investment will be in overhauling two stretches of the Nizwa-Thumrait road. Two contracts, worth a combined total of just under OR56m ($104.5m), will see 325 km of the route rehabilitated by Al Nasr Al Arabia and the Gulf of Oman Company. A further sum of more than OR35m ($90.9m) will be spent on new road construction throughout the Sultanate.

The biggest single project in terms of cost, however, will be the supply and installation of new equipment at Muscat International, Salalah and other domestic airports. For this, a contract worth OR44.85m ($116.5m) has been signed with Indra. Two smaller contracts were also signed for consultancy services in the maritime sector, the largest being an OR260,000 ($675,300) contract with Bird Associates, to study damage to the southern breakwater at Sohar Industrial Port.

The new investment in Oman’s transport infrastructure comes on the back of several other significant projects to link the Sultanate’s new industrial centres. An OR27.6m ($71.7m) contract for the construction of infrastructure at Sohar Airport was signed by Strabag Oman at the end of June, joining the OR37.5m ($97.4m) contract awarded to the firm last year for the first phase of construction at the airport. A contract is also expected to be awarded early next year for the project management of a proposed 280-km rail link between Sohar and Muscat, to be known as the Oman National Railway.

The multibillion-dollar freight and passenger railway will link the Sultanate’s major industrial and urban centres. A total of 32 international companies expressed interest at the pre-qualification stage of the process, which closed in mid-June. According to local press, the planned network will consist of four sections: the Sohar-Muscat section, which will include eight passenger stations and further cargo stops; the Muscat-Duqm section, with two cargo and nine passenger stations; the Sohar-Buraimi section, with two cargo and four passenger stations; and the Sohar-Khatmat Melaha section, which will consist of one cargo and four passenger stations.

Speaking to local media last month, Salim bin Mohammed Al Affani, the general manager of urban planning at the Supreme Committee for Town Planning, said that specifications for the Oman National Railway will match those under consideration in other parts of the GCC for the planned 1940-km Gulf-wide rail network. The track specification will handle trains of up to 350 km per hour, though initial internal rolling stock is expected to travel at speeds closer to 200 km per hour for passengers, and 80-120 km per hour for cargo.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Transport and Communications completed a feasibility study for the 306 km of the proposed GCC network that will link Oman with the UAE. The complete network is expected to be rolled out over the next seven to eight years, and involve investment across the Gulf exceeding $100bn. In addition to the GCC network, a further line linking Oman with Yemen is also currently under consideration.

The scale of investment across Oman’s transport sector should lead to a significant improvement in the nation’s logistical capacity in the coming years, enabling enhanced access to international markets for the Sultanate as well as improved local trade links with GCC neighbours. In the latter case, Oman Air is already successfully developing itself as a niche provider for the smaller cities of the neighbouring UAE.

 
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Omani officials want to extend its proposed rail network to Salalah earlier than originally planned according to local newspaper the Oman Observer.

The paper reports that Salalah’s inclusion in the project wasn’t envisaged until a later phase of the project, but officials want to include the port city in on the initial stages of the development to give the proposed rail network a broader reach.

The Oman National Rail Network will comprise a double track, standard gauge system with provision for high-speed trains capable of up to 350kph. Initially, however, freight trains will run at between 80-120kph, and passenger trains up to 200kph. All trains will be diesel-electric, powered by overhead powerlines.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

New plans for Oman's high speed rail network

FAST TRACK: The Oman National Rail Network will comprise a double track, standard gauge system with provision for high-speed trains capable of up to 350 km/h.(Getty Images)

Omani officials want to extend its proposed rail network to Salalah earlier than originally planned according to local newspaper the Oman Observer.

The paper reports that Salalah’s inclusion in the project wasn’t envisaged until a later phase of the project, but officials want to include the port city in on the initial stages of the development to give the proposed rail network a broader reach.

The Oman National Rail Network will comprise a double track, standard gauge system with provision for high-speed trains capable of up to 350 km/h. Initially, however, freight trains will run at between 80-120 km/h , and passenger trains up to 200 km/h. All trains will be diesel-electric, powered by overhead powerlines.

The network includes a system that stretches from Khatmat Malaha on the border with the UAE in the north to its southern most city via Duqm on the Wusta coast. The route to Salalah will be plotted via Shuwaymiyah and Thumrait.

Detailed feasibility studies have yet to be completed, and engineering designs for the proposed route will then be commissioned by the government.

Feasibility studies for the rest of the 1,000 km long network have been completed, and the project is to be divided in to four packages: a 280 km stretch from Muscat to the Port of Sohar, a 150 km branch extending from Sohar to Al Ain, a 58 km extension from Sohar to Khatmat Malaha, and the 520 km Muscat to the Port of Duqm.

Construction on the network is expected to begin in late 2012.

Read the full version of this story at constructionweekonline.com

 
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Contracts are to be awarded for work on Oman’s long-awaited national railway from June this year, according to a senior government official at the Oman Construction Summit.

A consultant who will prepare a detailed route design, and a project manager for building the railway, will both be selected in June, with a contractor chosen some time after the design is finalised.

Eng. Salim bin Mohammed Al Affani, director-general for Physical Planning at the Supreme Committee for Town Planning, was reported by the Times of Oman as saying that consultants and project managers have already pre-qualified by the Oman Tender Board.

“A tender document for pre-qualified firms will be issued soon,” the paper quoted.

In addition, he also confirmed a timeline for when the project would be completed and when the train would start operating. “It will take two years for the consultants to design the railway route and another four years to complete construction work.”

According to the daily, Mr Al Affani added: “Therefore, we expect trains to start operation in Sohar-Muscat route by 2017. The operations beyond Muscat will take more time to complete,” he added.

Connecting different cities via both main lines and sub-lines, the rail network will have as many as 21 stations across the Sultanate and amount a total length of 1,500km on completion.

Initially, officials are projecting around 500 passengers a day from stations across the five main cities. Once operational, the trains will have a speed of 200km/hr, which will eventually increase to 350km/h.

 
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Location: Botany NSW

Oman Transport Infrastructure Summit to outline vision for city-wide rail transit system - By Conrad Prabhu - MUSCAT — A Light Rail Transit (LRT) system for Muscat is not only feasible but also essential if projections on high traffic growth and the implications for transport efficiency and road safety are to be taken into account, according to a city-based expert on urban transport. Dr Syed Anisuddin, an expert attached to a government organisation, will outline his vision for a Light Rail Transit system for Muscat at this week’s Oman Transport Infrastructure Summit, which opens at the Crowne Plaza Muscat tomorrow.

The high-profile, four-day event will be held under the auspices of Said bin Hamdoon al Harthy, Under-Secretary for Ports and Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Transport and Communications. In their presentations on Day 2 of the Summit, Dr Anisuddin and a colleague will emphasise the importance of a Light Rail Transit system to manage Muscat’s burgeoning traffic. “We will present mathematical models that will help planners ascertain the potential passenger demand for a rail transit transport system in Muscat, based on which appropriate decisions on its scope can be made. Our presentations will also look at case studies of successful rail transit models implemented abroad and their possible adaptation in Muscat,” Dr Anisuddin said in comments to the Observer.

According to the expert, a Light Rail Transit system is a key transport imperative if Muscat city’s long-term well-being is to be ensured. “Traffic is growing at an alarming rate in the capital city, with its road increasing more than 20-25 per cent annually. Furthermore, urbanisation is a growing phenomenon, fuelled by an influx from villages and towns into Muscat. All of these factors are contributing to strong vehicular traffic growth,” he said.

Adding to these dynamics is the role of demographics. “If you look at the average population statistics, youngsters in the 19-20 years bracket make up a significant proportion. All of these youngsters will soon be looking for jobs, houses and the all-important motorcar. You then get an idea as to how many more vehicles will be added on to our streets.”

Without an effective transport solution for Muscat, the expert warns, service levels on the city’s streets could potentially decline to Level-C on the international scale of transport efficiency, and possibly degenerate to Level-D and Level-E during peak hours. The implications for road safety, which is already a priority concern for the government, are potentially appalling, he adds.

A viable solution, Dr Anisuddin points out, lies in the implementation of a Light Rail Transit system, given especially the city’s ribbon-like linear alignment. “Wherever there are linear cities, light rail, monorail and other rail-based transit systems are very popular. In fact, Light Rail Transit systems are operated in more than 330 cities around the world.”

Given Muscat’s topographical layout and population characteristics, Dr Anisuddin envisions an elevated Light Rail Transit system, much like the network already in operation in Dubai. However, unlike Dubai, which has a monorail-based system, the expert moots the idea of ‘standard gauge’ system (a railway track with a distance of 1.435 metres between the lines) in light of Muscat’s lower population density.

“A Light Rail Transit system is ideal because it can serve 50,000 passengers per hour per direction (PPHPD), which is a key advantage for many cities. As we have a lower population density in Muscat, we can consider a system with fewer coaches, say 3-4 per carriage, and also operate it at frequencies based on demand. In order for planners to come up with a scientific and rational approach to conceptualising a Light Rail Transit system for Muscat, we are proposing a mathematical model to help assess demand using routine transport data,” the expert explained.

Another much-awaited paper to be presented at this week’s Summit will shed light on Oman’s progress in developing a national rail system for passenger and goods traffic in the Sultanate. Salim bin Mohammed al Affani, Director-General of Physical Planning, Supreme Committee for Town Planning, will also outline design and construction challenges in the implementation of the multi-billion dollar scheme.

Oman’s National Railway Network will initially comprise the following five segments: Muscat — Sohar (242 km), Muscat — Duqm (486 km), Sohar — Al Ain (166 km), Sohar — Khatmat Malaha (58 km), and Duqm — Salalah (646 km). In future stages, linkages are also planned to Adam, Nizwa, Ibri, and other locations that will be identified based on a National Spatial Strategy Study currently being undertaken by the Supreme Committee.

It is expected that Requests for Proposals (RfPs) for the selection of design and project management consultants, delayed since March in the wake of a reshuffle of the Council of Ministers, are likely to be floated shortly. Around 10 international firms each have been prequalified to participate in the Detailed Engineering Design and Project Management Consultancy tenders.

 
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Location: Botany NSW

Light rail is ‘a viable solution’ for Muscat

Times News Service

12 September 2011 09:43:59 Oman Time

An environment-friendly sustainable light rail transport seems to be the most viable solution for resolving the transport woes in Muscat. (This picture is an indicative picture only)

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MUSCAT: An environment-friendly sustainable light rail transport seems to be the most viable solution for resolving the transport woes in Muscat, an expert suggested yesterday.

Addressing the Oman Transport Infrastructure Summit here yesterday, Dr Syed Anisuddin, expert – training and development at the Ministry of Defence Engineering Services, said there is a need to scientifically plan the future of Oman transport system for providing a better level of service, and avoid peak hours culminating into peak periods, thus moving more people rather than vehicles.

The rapid urbanisation in the past few years in Oman has resulted in abundant increase in housing and vehicular population, which is one of the highest in the world.

Every year, the road length is increased by 20 per cent.

However, the road space becomes scarce and the passengers are witnessing difficulties.

Oman is the third country among GCC in terms of number of accidents and seventh in global raking. “The median of Oman population is around 19 years. So one can imagine what an amount of load the roads will have to cater in a couple of years time, as they all will opt for their own cars,” he added.

Dr Anisuddin said countries that have best optimised transport network systems have flourished by all means in the world, though mobility and accessibility can not be provided alike to one and all.

The short-term need based planning costs heavy to the countries exchequer and the same time causes commuting stress and strain to road users

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

MUSCAT — Deficiencies in urban transport planning must be addressed if Oman needs to harness the benefits of optimised transport network systems of the kind that flourish elsewhere around the world, an expert on urban transportation noted here yesterday.

Dr Syed Anisuddin, an expert attached to the Defence Ministry’s Engineering Services Department, told delegates attending the Oman Transport Infrastructure Summit yesterday, that planned systems are key to the efficient movement of people.

In opening remarks as Chairman of the inaugural session, Dr Anisuddin warned that rising urbanisation threatens to create a “road space crunch” in the Sultanate if the situation is not suitably addressed. He said urbanisation coupled with growing housing demand is fuelling the growth of vehicle population density, which is one of the highest in the world. Although, the road length increases by more than 20 per cent annually, road spaces are becoming increasingly scarce. As a result, tripmakers are seeing a level of service that’s below ‘D’ during peak periods. Moreover, Oman has the third highest accident rate in the GCC, and the seventh highest in the world.

Popular demographics are also contributing to this scenario, he said. “It is stated that the median age of the population in Oman is around 17-19 years. Thus one can imagine the load when these youngsters opt for personal cars.

“Countries that have the best optimised transport network systems have flourished by all means in the world, though mobility and accessibility cannot be provided alike to one and all. People say the optimised transport network is a ‘mid-summer day-dream’ for Oman. The reasons are: few and systematic transportation and traffic related studies, need-based short-term planning, heavy costs to the exchequer, and commuting stress.

He underlined the importance of a rail network as well as scientifically planned transport systems to help better the level of service to at least Level B or Level C. A Light Rail Transit system for Muscat also made abundant sense given the city’s ribbon-like, linear alignment, Dr Anisuddin noted.

 
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Oman's plans to realise a national rail network are back on track after the government floated a tender for the key design and engineering package of the multibillion project.

Ten companies have been shortlisted from a total of over 30 firms and prequalified to participate in the design and construction supervision package of the project, which will be part of a wider pan-gulf cooperation council network.

The railway network will consist of five different segments, including a 242km Muscat-Sohar line, a 486km Muscat-Duqm line, a 166km Sohar-Al Ain line, a 58km Sohar-Khatmat Malaha line and a 646km Duqm-Salalah line.

The first phase of the project will see the construction of a 280km line that will link Sohar and Muscat.

A branch line from Sohar to Al Ain will also be carried out in the first phase while extensions from Duqm to Salalah and onward to Oman's border with Yemen are also planned.

The network will consist of a double track and a standard gauge system, which will allow trains to run at a speed up to 350km/hr.

 
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Plans for the establishment of a national rail system in Oman are back on track, with the authorities floating a tender for the key design engineering package. The scheme was halted earlier this year, Gulf News reports, “when a key ministry driving the project was dissolved by Oman’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos, in the wake of unprecedented protests by citizens demanding jobs and political reform.” Ten well-known firms have been prequalified to compete for the design engineering package. The alignment of a roughly 1,000km rail system extending from Khatmat Malaha on Oman’s border with the UAE, to Duqm on the Wusta coast, has been finalised. A branch line from Sohar to Al Ain will also be

implemented in the first phase of the project’s development.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

MUSCAT — A much-awaited tender for the selection of a Project Management Consultant for the development of a National Railway system in the Sultanate is due to be floated in the coming weeks.

According to an official of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, which has taken over implementation of the strategic project from the Supreme Committee for Town Planning (SCTP), the keenly anticipated tender is expected to be floated before the end of this month.

Authorities overseeing the rail project had originally targeted a mid-year timeframe for the selection of the Project Manager, as well as a Design Consultant, for the multi-billion dollar rail network. But the dissolution of the National Economy Ministry, as well as the cabinet reshuffle earlier this year had led to inevitably delays in the competitive process surrounding these key appointments.

However, the tendering process was revived last month following the transfer of the rail portfolio to the Ministry of Transport and Communications. A much-delayed tender for the selection of a railway design consultant has since been floated, with all 10 prequalified companies looking to bid for this prestigious contract. Bids are due in by November 7, 2011.

Ten international firms, whose identities have not been officially disclosed yet, have also been prequalified to participate in the equally coveted Project Management Consultancy tender due to be floated soon. Many of the contenders for the Design Consultancy contract are also likely to figure on the shortlist of prequalified bidders for the Project Management contract, although it’s unlikely that any one company will bag both contracts.

The successful bidder stands to win a seven-year contract as Project Manager of the massive venture, with the likelihood of a more substantive role in the future development of the project.

The Project Manager’s main brief is to supervise the project phases and system aspects necessary for the planning and engineering of the system, as well as the design, construction and commissioning of the rail project. A key part of its remit is to conceive and develop a suitable structure for a National Railway Organisation for the Sultanate of Oman.

In addition, the consultant will draw up a strategy for the operation and maintenance of the rail system, either by developing an organisation to undertake this responsibility or through the award of a concession or contract.

The consultant will be required to draw on state-of-the-art international technology for rolling stock, control system, maintenance workshops and depots.

Besides, the procurement and commissioning of all rolling stock and machinery for the rail project will be overseen by the project manager.

Oman’s National Railway System is part of the proposed inter-GCC railway network that will run from Kuwait to Muscat, and onward to Salalah and possibly to Yemen.

In the first phase, a 240 km section will be developed from the industrial hub of Sohar to Muscat, followed by a 486 km coastal rail network from Muscat to Duqm in the second phase.

In later phases, an extension from Duqm to Salalah (696 km), and possibly from Duqm to Al Mazyounah Free Trade Zone close to Oman’s border with Yemen, are envisaged. A branch line linking Sohar with Al Ain on the UAE border is on the cards as well.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Railway project key to development: Futaisi

MUSCAT The government of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said is according top priority to the transport sector.

The national railway project will be crucial to economic and social development as it will link the cities and ports in the Sultanate, HE Dr Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, has said.

“The national railway project is part of the GCC railway project and will link the Sultanate with the UAE and other GCC states and will have many economic advantages,” Futaisi said. He said the railway project will be implemented taking into account the geography of the Sultanate.

The ministry is implementing projects including construction, paving and maintenance of roads in the wilayats, construction of harbours and airports, besides supervising telecommunications and postal services.

It is preparing designs for road projects to be implemented in 2012, Futaisi said. Study on the 265km Al Batinah expressway project – from the end of Muscat expressway in the Wilayat of Barka to the Wilayat of Shinas – has been completed. It is one of the new projects in the 8th Five-Year Plan (2011-2012), he said.

The ministry has also prepared the design for the 30km Wadi Al Suhtun road project to be implemented soon. The project links the villages of Wadi Al Sohtun with the centre of the Wilayat of Al Rustaq.

He said crossroads on the Al Batinah road have been closed to construct subways and bridges that will help curb accidents. “The new projects will decrease accidents, which have witnessed a rise, and enable smooth traffic,” he said. The first stage of the project is worth more than 12.5 million rials and the second stage worth more than 8.5 million rials, he said.

The Adam-Thumrait dual road project linking the northern governorates of the Sultanate with Al Wusta and Dhofar governorates as well as Yemen is a strategic one, Futaisi said. The design consultation for the project will be announced in the tender bid soon. The 750km project begins at the end of the under-construction Ezz-Adam dual road and ends at the under construction Thumrait-Salalah road. The Ezz-Adam dual road links the Wilayats of Manah and Adam.

The study on improving the Sinaw-Mahout-Al Duqm road (351km) is also under way.

“The tender bid for the Wadi Quriyat road (21km) in Al Dakhiliyah governorate was announced, while work will start in the beginning of 2012,” Futaisi said.

The Faraq-Marfa Dares road (17km) in the Wilayat of Nizwa is a crucial project in the wilayat, he added.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

DUBLIN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Research and Markets(http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/88bf37/oman_infrastructur) has announced the addition of the "Oman Infrastructure Report Q1 2012" report to their offering.

An upward trend in Oman's construction sector is expected to continue in 2012, despite unrest on the political front. Construction industry value is expected to reach US$3.7bn over the course of 2012, based on year-on-year growth of 5.4%. This is expected to rise to US$5.5bn by 2016. The energy and utilities sector remains the main driving force for development, as the country seeks to support demand.

Key highlights include

•The Omani government announced plans in October 2011 to construct a gas-fired power plant in Salalah city, according to the CEO of Oman Power and Water Procurement (OPWP), Bob Whitelaw.

•The tender for the project management consultancy contract for Oman's National Railway network launched in Q4 2011. The contract was delayed due to the closure of the National Economy Ministry. Bids will see 10 pre-qualified companies competing. The consultant will be responsible for procurement, planning and engineering, over a seven-year contract period.

•15 companies have been confirmed as bidders for the contract to build the Batinah Expressway project. The bidding process was launched on October 5 2011. Companies confirmed as bidders include Oman-based construction companies Strabag Oman and Larsen & Toubro Oman, and Turkish construction companies Makyol Gulf and Sezai Turkes-Feyzi Akkaya.

•Oman's economy will expand at a relatively robust rate over 2011 and 2012. Although growth in H211 is unlikely to match the rate achieved in the first half of the year, heavy government expenditure and the elevated price of oil will continue to stimulate GDP growth in the medium-term. We forecast real GDP growth of 4.5% in 2011 and 3.4% in 2012.

Companies Mentioned:

•Galfar Engineering And Contracting

For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/88bf37/oman_infrastructur

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

MUSCAT — International companies competing for a keenly awaited, but much-delayed, contract for the Design & Supervision of Oman’s National Rail Project have been asked to extend their bid bonds to July 5, 2012, fuelling expectations that an award is likely in the coming months.
Five consortiums, each led by leading names in the global rail engineering and construction industry, are bidding for a four-year contract to undertake the detailed engineering design of the proposed 1,000-kilometre-long rail network.
Last month, the Tender Board faxed letters to the bidders’ representatives in the Sultanate directing them to extend their bid bonds by 90 days to July 5, in the latest of a series of extensions that have characterised this long overdue contract award. All five bidders are understood to have since complied.
Bid bonds, which are guarantees that the winning bidder will undertake the contract under the terms at which they bid, are typically valid for not more than 90 days, and are routinely renewed at the client’s behest.
According to officials, the delay in the announcement of an award for the Design & Supervision package is an inevitable outcome of the project’s transfer last year from the Supreme Committee for Town Planning to the Ministry of Transport & Communications. As the move did not include any of the staff who had handled the rail project from its inception, the Ministry was compelled to build a dedicated Rail Team from scratch, thus resulting in an unavoidable lapse of time.
Significantly, the Ministry has also appointed internationally reputed consultants to assist its staff in undertaking a review of various aspects of the complex project — an exercise that is ongoing, an official said.
“This project is part of a Gulf-wide rail network, and the Ministry is carefully evaluating it in terms of how to proceed. As it is part of a bigger effort between the GCC and Oman, the Ministry is taking the project very seriously and according it priority attention,” the official added.
The line-up of contenders for the key Design & Supervision contract is as follows:
(i). AECOM, a US-headquartered global provider of professional technical and management support services, along Cowi & Partners, the well-known international consulting group, and DBI, an affiliate of the German government-owned railway organisation DB; (ii) Partnership of French-based international rail consultants Systra and US-based Parsons, one of the world’s largest engineering and construction organizations, along with Atkins of the UK;
(iii) Consortium headed by Mott MacDonald, a leading global management, engineering and development consultancy, and including Italferr SpA, a reputed Italian rail infrastructure company, and WorleyParsons, a well-known international provider of professional services to the resources and energy sectors; (iv) Partnership of eight Korean firms led by Korea Rail, a major player in South Korea’s rail sector; and (v) Consortium led by Prointec Group, a Spanish based multidisciplinary engineering services provider, and including well-known Spanish-based engineering entities Idom, Eurostudies and ALG.
The successful bidder will be required to prepare the preliminary design for all the elements of the railway project. Upon approval of the preliminary designs, the consultant will then proceed with the detailed design of the alignment and infrastructure; bridges, culverts and tunnels; railway stations and yards; rail track; and overhead electrical infrastructure, among other elements. Additionally, the consultant will develop specifications for rolling stock and other systems.
Oman’s National Railway System is part of the proposed inter-GCC railway network that will run from Kuwait to Muscat, and onward to Salalah and possibly to Yemen. In the first phase, a 240 km section will be developed from the industrial hub of Sohar to Muscat, followed by a 486 km coastal rail network from Muscat to Duqm in the second phase.
Given the gargantuan size of the project, there is some speculation that the Tender Board may select more than one bidder to undertake the Design & Supervision package. While the Muscat-Sohar-Khatmat Malaha-Al Ain network is likely to be awarded to one bidder, the Salalah-Duqm line may be hived off to another bidder, it is learnt.
In later phases, an extension from Duqm to Salalah (696 km), and possibly from Duqm to Al Mazyounah Free Trade Zone close to Oman’s border with Yemen, are envisaged. A branch line linking Sohar with Al Ain on the UAE border is on the cards as well.

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

 

 

 

 

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A delegation from Persian Gulf countries visits Metro de Madrid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spanish Association of Manufacturers and Exporters of Equipment and Services for the Railway Industry (MAFEX), in collaboration with Metro de Madrid, has organised a visit for a delegation made up by representatives of the Qatar Rail Company, Makkah Mass Rail Transit Company and the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Oman, interested in learning about the operation and maintenance of Metro de Madrid’s facilities.

 

 

(29/05/2012)  
The objective of the representatives of the three companies is to enhance their expectations of growth and reinforce their position in the face of the new infrastructure and transport projects to be developed in the future, and to take Metro de Madrid as a model.

The delegation had the opportunity to visit Metro de Madrid’s Control Centre, located at Alto del Arenal station, from which the energy distribution, electro-mechanical and electronic installations of the stations, the track installations and railway signalling are controlled.

The operating systems for dealing with emergencies, the regulation of trains and other systems are also located in Alto del Arenal and are all equipped with control logics which convert them into intelligent systems within a complex system for the management of transport.
 

 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

MUSCAT — A meeting was held at the Ministry of Transport and Communications yesterday between Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, and Nasser bin Ahmad al Suwaidi, Member of the Executive Council, Chairman of the Economic Development Department in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Al Etihad Rail Company, in the presence of Salim bin Mohammad al Nu'aimi, Ministry's Under-Secretary for Transport, and officials at the ministry.
Dr Al Futaisi said that the meeting focused on discussing the exchange of experiences in railway project, adding that the GCC train project must be compatible with the criteria, specifications and operation of trains between Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as we will connect with them in this project at Al Buraimi-Al Ain – Shinas–Fujairah, so there must be close co-operation to develop appropriate criteria to have standard specifications on both sides for this project because our trains will enter into their lanes and vice versa.
He added that they reached a proposal to form a Joint Technical Committee between the two sides, from the ministry and Etihad Rail Company to meet regularly to develop standardised specifications for the project, as they reached stages ahead in this area, have been through many experiences and have developed several laws and legislations. They put forward some inquiries and it is our role to benefit from these experiences. The meeting reviewed areas of co-operation between the two countries about the GCC train project particularly with respect to the implementation of the rail line. — ONA

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Nine to Bid for Oman $155 Million Rail Design Project

04.09.2012 (10:2Cool

Nine international companies or groups plan to bid for a contract that could be worth as much as 60 million rials ($155 million) to design and consult on the construction of Oman's first major railway, a tender board official said on Monday.
"The companies have been asked to submit new bids to give the process more time. The new deadline is on Oct. 5, for what we expect will be a contract worth between 45 and 60 million rials," the official told Reuters, declining to be named under briefing rules.
He identified bidders as a consortium comprising Denmark's COWI, DBI and AECOM of the United States; SYSTRA of France; U.S.-based Parsons Corp; Mott MacDonald of Britain; a consortium comprising Italy's Italferr and Worsely Parsons of Australia; a China Railway company; France's Egis Rail; the Pointec group; and a consortium of Korea Rail and the Hyundai group.
The official said the bids had originally been due to be submitted in July, but the government decided to extend the deadline to give contractors more time.
Oman plans to build a 1,000 km (625 mile) railway at an estimated cost of around 5 billion rials, with completion in 2018. The line, part of a scheme to build rail links across Gulf Cooperation Council countries, will run from the northern border town of Buraimi to the southern city of Salalah.
"It will have terminals in each major town along the way to transport goods and passengers," the official said.
Each state in the GCC, which also includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, plans to build its own railway system as part of efforts to boost trade among member states. Each government is to fund construction within its borders.
http://www.reuters.com

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Nine international companies have expressed interest in providing design and consulting services worth OMR60m ($155m) for the first major rail project in Oman.

Bids had initially been asked to be submitted in July 2012, but the deadline has been extended to 5 October 2012 to allow enough time for new offers to come in.

According to reports, interested bidders include a consortium of Denmark's COWI and DBI and Aecom of the US, Systra of France, US-based Parsons, and Mott MacDonald of Britain.

Other bidders who have shown interest include a consortium of Italy's Italferr and Worsely Parsons of Australia, an unnamed China-based railway company, France's Egis Rail, Pointec Group, and a consortium of Korea Rail and Hyundai Group.

Oman plans to build a 1,000km railway at an estimated cost of OMR5bn ($12.9bn), which is expected to be completed in 2018.

The new line is part of a plan to build rail links across Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

New terminals will be built at major towns along the way to transport goods and passengers as the railway will run from the northern border town of Buraimi to the southern city of Salalah.

Each country in the GCC, which includes Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, is planning to build their own railway system as part of a pan-Gulf rail system to increase trade among member states.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Nine international companies have expressed interest in providing design and consulting services worth $US155 million for the planned 1,000km Oman railway (estimated cost $12.9 billion), to be completed in 2018.

Originally bids were to be submitted in July 2012, but the deadline has been extended to 5 October. Prospective bidders reportedly include Parsons-Brinkerhoff of the USA, France’s Egis Rail, an unspecified Chinese company, and two consortia – Italy’s Italferr with Worsely Parsons of Australia, and Korea Rail with Hyundai

 

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