Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE’s national railway, launched construction works on 'package A' of stage two of the pan-emirates railway network, according to Wam.
Package A will run for 139 kilometres from Ghuweifat on the UAE-Saudi Arabia border to Ruwais, where it connects with Stage One of the network, the state-run news agency said on Wednesday.
"As 2020, the year of preparing for the next 50 years, begins, we launch the construction works for this pivotal national project that will generate a paradigm shift in the country’s transport sector, consolidating the UAE’s position at both regional and global levels," Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court and chairman of Etihad Rail, said. "We witness the transition from planning and design to actual implementation of the project on the ground, following in the footsteps of our founding fathers as we implement one of the nation’s most strategic projects."
Etihad Rail also signed a contract with a joint venture of Larson and Toubro Limited and Power China International to construct freight facilities for the railway network at a total cost of Dh1.87 billion.
The two companies will be jointly responsible for the surveying, design, construction, equipment installation, testing and pre-commissioning of each facility, according to the agreement terms.
With this deal, Etihad Rail has finished the contract-awarding process of stage two of the national rail network, which will connect Fujairah and Khorfakkan on the UAE’s east coast to the UAE’s border with Saudi Arabia at Ghuweifat, according to WAM.
Etihad Rail is building a series of freight facilities in Ruwais, Industrial City of Abu Dhabi (ICAD), Khalifa Port, Dubai Industrial City (DIC), Jebel Ali Port, Al Ghayl and Siji, Fujairah Port and Khorfakkan Port capable of undertaking all loading and unloading operations, in addition to providing container storage and maintenance, Wam said.
The UAE, already one of the world's largest logistics and transportation hubs, is working on connectivity between its ports, airports and manufacturing hubs to boost freight volumes, enhance its logistics sector and facilitate trade.
The focus on logistics comes as the Gulf nation seeks to diversify its economy away from oil and boost alternative revenue streams. Its 1200km national railway is part of wider plans to connect with the networks of other Gulf countries.