Oman-UAE rail company already has a customer, but no network yet

Image: Oman Rail

Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have recently funded the Omani & Etihad Rail Company (OERC), to create a railway network between the two countries. The new entity has recently inked a contract with Jindal Shadeed Iron & Steel, one of the largest steel producers in Oman, to move their products on the rail. However, it needs to be mentioned that it is not yet clear when the Omani rail network will be commissioned and rail freight services for Jindal Shadeed could start.

The contract stipulates that Jindal Shadeed will be able to move up to four million tonnes of its material and products via rail. The company, headquartered in the Omani port of Sohar, has mainly relied on sea and road for its transport services so far. However, thanks to OERC, rail freight in Oman could gain significant relevance once the network is built. This is because a railway network in the country is currently being developed from scratch.

Jindal Shadeed at the port of Sohar. Image: © Jindal Shadeed

The Oman-UAE railway

The main goal for Oman Rail and Etihad Rail, with the creation of OERC, is to create a railway network in Oman, linking the port of Sohar and the capital Muscat with Abu Dhabi, in the UAE. The first project entails the construction of a line stretching for 207 kilometres from the port of Sohar to the border with UAE, where Jindal Shadeed’s goods will run. The whole project is expected to cost around three billion euros. Freight trains will be able to travel at 120 km/h, while passengers will reach speeds of 200 km/h. In the first stage, the tracks will be suitable for diesel locomotives. However, it is planned to electrify the network in a second stage.

Oman wants to be part of the Gulf Railway

While developing its own railway network, Oman is collaborating with Saudi Arabia as well. Back in March, the two countries discussed the creation of a line connecting Duqm, in western Oman, with the Saudi capital Riyadh. The border crossing will be placed in Al Dhahirah, near Ibri. There, the two countries are planning to build a new economic zone. As for the one between Oman and UAE, this line will also be significantly more important for rail freight rather than passenger transport. These initiatives show Oman’s intention to become part of the Gulf Railway which aims at connecting all six Gulf Cooperation Council member states. The six countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman.

Future Oman railway network. Image: © Oman Rail

UAE’s brand new railway network

If Oman is still working on creating a railway network across the country, the UAE finally completed theirs at the end of February. Since then, all seven emirates have been connected to a main national railway. The new railway network stretches for roughly 900 kilometres across the country. Concerning rail freight, the network can count on 38 EMD SD70 locomotives and over 1,000 wagons. Mining company Stevin Rock and chemical manufacturer Borogue are among the first EAU companies to sign contracts to use the brand-new network. The EAU expects this new network to reduce road traffic by 21 per cent by 2050.

Railway network in UAE. Image: Wikimedia Commons. © Reinhard Dietrich

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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