Etihad Rail, developer and operator of the UAE's national rail network, has awarded a Dh1.5 billion contract for the design and construction of phase two of the project to connect Ruwais in Abu Dhabi with Ghuweifat on the UAE-Saudi Arabia border.
A joint venture between the China State Construction Engineering Corporation and South Korea’s SK Engineering and Construction won the package, state-owned Etihad Rail said on Monday. Etihad Rail expects to award more contracts soon.
“With the commencement of this first phase of stage two, we are reaching a major turning point in the transportation sector in the UAE and GCC,” said Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, chairman of Etihad Rail and member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. “This initial link is just the beginning, as Etihad Rail expands its network to improve all aspects of freight transport across our border and around the region.”
The deal comes after Etihad Rail said last year that the UAE Ministry of Finance and the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance signed an agreement to finance the second stage of the rail network. The project is back on track after delays when low oil prices constrained public spending.
Package A of stage two, for which the contract was awarded, is a 139-kilometre railway.
The contract covers work on the design and construction of rail infrastructure, bridges, tunnels, animal crossings, track-laying and linking with stage one of the network, the company said.
“Etihad Rail is working diligently and efficiently towards awarding contracts for the rest of stage two over the coming months,” it said.
Stage two, when complete, will run for 605km from Ghuweifat to the Port of Fujairah.
Etihad Rail will connect its network with Khalifa Port following a deal with Abu Dhabi Ports announced last month.
Connecting Khalifa Port to the national rail network under the deal will raise competitiveness and increase the size of the train station at Khalifa Port to become the largest in the network, with an annual capacity of 2.4 million containers, Sheikh Theyab said.
The railway is a key component of the UAE’s future transport strategy, as it intends to carry freight for the country’s sizeable mining, quarrying, shipping, distribution and oil and gas industries, as well as serve passengers from city centres and the suburbs.