Construction of a key part of the UAE's national rail network has begun.
Tracks are being laid for the 139-kilometre stretch connecting Ruwais with Ghuweifat on the UAE border with Saudi Arabia.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra, announced the track-laying on Thursday, during his visit to Etihad Rail’s operations in Ruwais.
At least 59 per cent of project has already been completed.
When finished, Etihad Rail will stretch for about 1,000km from Ghuweifat to Fujairah on the UAE’s east coast.
It will connect Abu Dhabi's Khalifa Port and Mussaffah with Jebel Ali port in Dubai and the Port of Fujairah.
It is also envisaged the UAE network will form part of a wider-GCC rail network.
Stage one of Etihad Rail – linking the gas fields at Shah and Habshan to Ruwais – is already in operation.
Now the second stage of the project is advancing rapidly.
Aside from the connection to the Saudi border, crews are also working on a 145-kilometre link between Dubai, Sharjah and Fujairah port.
Workers will dig at least 15 tunnels through the Hajjar Mountains and build 35 bridges designed for heavy cargo loads.
Etihad Rail was created in 2009. Freight is the focus but its original mandate included a potential passenger element.