August 21 - Executive commercial manager, Edwin Lammers, has said that the development of a freight rail terminal at Sohar will be vital in accelerating national growth and ensuring that Oman remains competitive in global markets.

Speaking at the Rail Projects GCC Exhibition & Summit 2014, he said: "This is an exciting time for the Middle East rail industry, and even more so here in Oman. Around USD250 billion has been committed to building a 67,000 km network in the Gulf, and work has also begun on the first phase of Oman's 2,244 km freight and passenger infrastructure.

"As one of the world's largest port development sites and the cornerstone of Oman's global trade ambitions, we have seen steady growth in the demand for distribution and freight services. Connecting SOHAR to rail networks therefore becomes an obvious choice from a customer service perspective, and will allow us to capitalise on rising trade volumes and drive down the cost of doing business in Oman."

Sohar's presence at the Summit comes as it applies the finishing touches to the relocation of commercial traffic from Muscat - which will see the number of containers passing through the port more than double. 200,000 tonnes of freight cargo and 70,000 cars will also make the move from the capital, and Lammers discussed the wider benefits of rail transport for local roads and the environment.

"Beyond the economic value of being able to transport great volumes at quicker and more reliable speeds, rail transportation has the additional benefit of reducing road traffic and pressure on the environment."