The anticipated delay of the GCC Railway Network will not halt domestic rail development in Oman, according to John Lesniewski, chief commercial officer of Oman Rail.
Speaking to Construction Week during Middle East Rail 2016, Lesniewski said that Oman Rail is currently considering the feasibility of domestic rail lines that would bolster the Sultanate’s logistics infrastructure.
Oman Rail’s CCO emphasised that the development of such lines would offer a significant strategic advantage to the country’s minerals export sector.
Lesniewski said that Oman Rail is currently awaiting an update with regards the probable delay period of the GCC Railway Network, which was most recently slated for 2018.
“In the meantime, our minister has decided that Oman needs to continue to develop its railway, and we have other sections of the track that might be suitable for development; to transport minerals or oilfield products, for example,” revealed Lesniewski.
“Just because the GCC Railway Network has been delayed a little bit, [Oman Rail] is not going to stop working,” he added.
Lesniewski noted that by supplementing Oman’s road haulage sector, such lines would serve to increase export capacity at the Sultanate’s ports.
“We really consider the railroad a nation builder,” he continued. “Oman is blessed with some of the best [natural resources] in the world; billions of tonnes of minerals, which translate into millions of tonnes of mineral exports per year.
“Right now, these minerals are being moved by truck, and the trucks have saturated the ports. [This means] we can’t expand our exports. So, if one train can replace 300-400 truckloads, one train per day will clear the ports and enable [Oman] to raise exports by an exponential amount.”
Despite the strategic benefits that could be offered by new rail lines, Lesniewski said that details of such developments have not yet been finalised.
“We’re just getting started,” he emphasised. “We’re working with the mineral development authority in Oman to identify where the reserves are. It’s important to understand who holds the concessions and who the end users of these products are.
“We’re investigating the entire value chain. It’s not just about moving a trainload [of materials]. We need to know what value will that add, and what will it require?” Lesniewski concluded.