40 YEARS -
By Maurice Gent -
maurice.gent@ omanobserver.om -
One of the most important issues the Government has to face in the next decade is near. The new GCC rail network is coming close to reality, many decisions have to be taken.
Already it is clear that it is vital both to the Government and the nation that the right choice is made.
Transport not only takes up a large portion of the whole nation’s budget. A well co-ordinated transport system is
vital for Oman’s trading success, both within the GCC and in the wide world beyond.
The debate has involved the argument that while diesel systems suit all other Gulf countries, Oman is a special case.
Why? In Oman there are some very steep gradients to contend with, particularly in the Northern part of the country. It’s scenically beautiful mountains with challenging sudden changes in height pose a problem. Some have argued that an electrical link is the answer, at least for part of the network.
With the ever increasing advances in technology an all diesel network in Oman is not impossible, and there are many advantages.
If Oman opted for a partially electric network it would not be a seamless and unified part of the whole GCC network. There would clearly be both delays and costs involved in switching between an electric and diesel system.
Any delays that involved just Oman would make the Sultanate a second
class partner in what should be an
equal enterprise amongst all the Gulf states.
As the years progress the electrification of part of the Oman network would cause great problems as the network is used for the carriage of more and more goods.
Oman would be out of step with it’s neighbours at a time when faster and more efficient transport should be
bringing all GCC nations closer together.
A separate electric part of a Gulf wide rail system just within the territories of Oman, makes no sense.
It is therefore very important that Oman, like other nations of the GCC, has a diesel system with no electric component.
Diesel transport has proved itself efficient in many parts of the world and it will fit the needs of a new transport system for Oman.
Diesel makes sense.