The United Arab Emirates’ Etihad Rail said its first route will be completed in early 2013 between Habshan and Ruwais in Abu Dhabi as part of its 40 billion dirhams ($10.9 billion) project to build a rail network.
The first route will transport granulated sulphur from Shah and Habshan to Ruwais for export. The project, which will take seven to eight years to complete, will eventually include a rail network of 1200 km in the UAE. The rail will also be linked to Saudi Arabia and Oman.
Construction of the first phase will begin in the second half of 2011.
Etihad Rail, capitalized at 1 billion dirhams is 70 percent owned by Abu Dhabi’s government and 30 percent by the UAE’s federal government.
“The railway network will form an imperative part of the country’s infrastructure and promote integration between various methods of transportation,” Nasser al Sowaidi, chairman of Etihad Rail said.
“The railway will also form a vital part of the greater GCC railway network, facilitating trade, opening up communication channels and fostering economic and infrastructure development.”
The second phase will see the construction of the remainder of the Abu Dhabi emirate network as well as a connection to Dubai. The final phase involves extending the rail network to the country’s northern Emirates.
The rail network will transport some 50 million tones of freight and 16 million passengers for the next 20 to 30 years.
For the first phase, three major contracts have been tendered, said Richard Bowker, CEO of Etihad Rail.
The largest is the infrastructure contract and the remaining two are for rolling stock, he said, adding that 21 firms have been prequalified for the contracts. He declined to give a value for the first phase contracts.
The UAE is a federation of seven members with Abu Dhabi as the capital. Dubai, the second largest member, has had a metro rail system since September 2009.