Once the new rail network in Oman is connected to the country's three main ports, dry bulk traffic carried by rail is expected to increase exponentially. Currently, most mineral exports are handled by road.

Salalah currently handles around 10mt (million tonnes) of mineral exports, mostly limestone and gypsum, which requires 500–600 truckloads a day, inbound from the hills around Thamrait. One train loading up to 10,000 tonnes could replace around 300 trucks, meaning two trains per day could totally eliminate road haulage. As a result, capacity at the port could be raised from 10mt to 50–60mt. Similar figures could be posted at Duqm and, to a lesser extent, at Sohar.

Overall, mineral exports could increase tenfold.

Oman Rail is planning to deploy rotary railcar dumper technology at the ports to ensure that one vessel can be loaded per day rather than one vessel every six days, which is the case at present.

Barry Cross