The UAE has paved the way for the first Dubai to Abu Dhabi train line by awarding contracts to build hundreds of kilometres of track.
Etihad Rail issued work contracts to two companies on Tuesday to build a freight train route between the two emirates.
The two contracts are for rail lines stretching 216km and 94km. They were approved during a board meeting led by Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed, chairman of Etihad Rail. The total value of the works is Dh4.4 billion.
A rail line has been fully operational since 2016, transporting sulphur from the oil refineries at Habshan in Al Dhafra to the port at Ruwais for export.
The next phase of the project will connect ports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Theyab attended the contract signing ceremony with Ali Al Bloushi, chairman of Ghantoot Transport and General Contracting, and Wang Jinsong, a representative from China Railway Construction Corporation, the two companies awarded the contracts.
"Etihad Rail will sustain the growth of our transport industry and freight carriage sector throughout the UAE, as railway systems are one of the most important means of transport on which countries depend to achieve their economic and social objectives," Sheikh Theyab said.
The launch is part of the second stage of the project to connect all of the emirates by rail, the state news agency Wam reported.
The packages link Khalifa Port, Khalifa Industrial City and Jebel Ali Port.
The project includes links to ports and industrial areas nationwide, along a distance of 310km.
It is the backbone of the UAE national railway network, upgrading the transport and shipping industry by connecting ports, manufacturing and production points, and urban locations.
Etihad Rail previously awarded the first part of the project to China State Construction Engineering and South Korea’s SK Engineering and Construction.
When complete, the 1,200km Etihad Rail project will form an integral part of a GCC-wide railway network.