(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Oman Rail Co is to become a member of the Paris-based International Union of Railways before the end of this year.
The Union which is known by its French abbreviation UIC or Union Internationale des Chemins is an international rail transport industry body.
Oman Rail is a candidate for membership of UIC and the UIC general assembly would approve its membership in July or December this year its director general said.
'A number of Middle Eastern railways are members of UIC and we would welcome Oman Kuwait and others to join. Oman Rail has applied for membership but is yet to provide more statistics and details. We would welcome them as soon as our general assembly approves their memberships' Jean-Pierre Loubinoux told Muscat Daily in an interview on the sidelines of International Transport Forum 2015 in Leipzig Germany.
Loubinoux urged GCC countries to consider a collective membership of UIC. 'All the GCC railways can become individual members but we are also willing to have all of them as one member. This is an open invitation to the GCC.'
He said GCC currently has the most ambitious railway projects and there is need for regional railways to use common standards and rules for operations to achieve interoperability.
'The region can avoid some difficulties that others have faced. For example Europe experiences difficulties with different standards and operational rules across its various countries. Common standards not adhered to from the beginning become a big challenge for interoperability at a later stage. It will be advantageous for GCC states to avoid these problems at an early stage' he said.
Loubinoux added that with interoperability and seamless cross-border operations GCC railways would be able to offer all the advantages of the system. 'The railway is an important player in moving goods and people. The GCC network will facilitate trade between regional countries and make ports in UAE and Oman more attractive for trade flows from the Indian Ocean and Asia. Of course there would be more competition among regional ports but they can also become complementary to each other.'
The UIC has 214 railways worldwide as its members from nearly 100 countries.
Once a member of UIC Oman Rail will have access to all of its international railway standards benchmarks conferences workshops and studies as a member of the worldwide community of railways which deals with common issues Loubinoux added.