Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, tracked the progress of the UAE's fast-developing national rail project during a site visit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Mr Al Mazrouei boarded an inspection train to review construction work on the vast network being developed by Etihad Rail.
The minister, accompanied by Hassan Al Mansouri, under secretary for Infrastructure and Transport Affairs at the ministry, was welcomed by Shadi Malak, chief executive of Etihad Rail, and other representatives of the company.
The transport initiative is rapidly taking shape, with construction of the railway line between Abu Dhabi and Dubai completed this month.
The segment of line – which stretches 256 kilometres – forms a vital part of the network that will carry passengers and freight between the emirates and, eventually, across the country.
The minister inspected the main operations and maintenance hub, heralded as the nerve centre of the project.
Mr Al Mazrouei was briefed on the project, legislation and commercial development, in addition to contracts and partnerships recently signed by Etihad Rail, including the agreement with First Abu Dhabi Bank for financing the passenger transport services project valued at Dh1.99 billion, where FAB will be the Certified Lead Arranger for the loan.
He voiced his appreciation of the progress made and the efforts of the Etihad Rail team.
Etihad Rail has completed 70 per cent of stage two of the mega project.
Stage one – a freight service linking the gasfields at Shah and Habshan to Ruwais – opened in 2016, while stage two joins Ghuweifat on the border with Saudi Arabia to Fujairah on the east coast in a line running for about 1,200km.
The passenger and freight service will run on the stage two line and it is expected to carry more than 36 million passengers a year by 2030. Additions to the route are expected.