SOHAR rail and cargo plans gather pace
SOHAR executive commercial manager Edwin Lammers has revealed that plans for a world-class rail terminal and rail links to connect global supply chains with SOHAR Port and Freezone via the GCC rail project received widespread praise among attendees at this year’s Middle East Rail Exhibition.
The efficiency and integration of supply chains and the benefits of transporting cargo through SOHAR were also discussed at The Cargo Show MENA 2015, according to Lammers, which ran simultaneously with the largest railway expo in the MENA region at Dubai International Convention Centre.
“The GCC rail project has received worldwide coverage in the media and attracted the gaze of government planners and railway developers from around the world. This was reflected in the high levels of interest in the terminal planned for SOHAR at the Middle East Rail Exhibition, and as the gateway to the Gulf, many of the expo’s 6,000 visitors were keen to find out how they can utilise the terminal to boost their business,” he reported.
The Oman leg of the GCC railway will connect all of the Gulf state’s logistics hubs but will be predominantly used to get goods in and out of consumer markets in UAE and Saudi Arabia, through SOHAR.
The main rail section from SOHAR will stretch across six viaducts, two tunnels, and 122 kilometres of track before reaching UAE.
Meanwhile, as one of the world’s largest port and freezone development sites, Lammers said the multimodal nature of SOHAR and its position outside the Strait of Hormuz proved to be a point of interest.
“We have been inundated with enquiries from both shows. Participants were particularly interested in the time and cost savings associated with distributing cargo from outside the Strait of Hormuz, the status of the hundreds of kilometres of expressways being built across Oman, and how each element of our multimodal infrastructure at SOHAR – road, rail, air, and sea – will offer access to the region’s big consumer markets,” he stated.
“While faster road and new air transportation links are now available after the opening of Sohar Airport, rail holds the most promise in terms of cargo volumes and efficiency. When fully operational, the transport time for cargo departing SOHAR railway station for the UAE border will be fixed at around 1 hour.”
The Middle East Rail Expo is designed to bring Middle East governments together to design, plan, and build their future rail networks. It is the only regional rail conference and exhibition in partnership with the UAE government, and is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
The Cargo Show MENA also brings together cargo and transport logistics supply chains to improve efficiency in the movement of cargo across the Middle East.