Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB) has formed a joint venture (JV) with the UAE rail operator Etihad Rail to oversee the future freight operations for the emirate’s national railway.

DB’s UK-based rail freight operating arm, DB Schenker Rail, will be the partner in a JV called Etihad Rail DB Operations.  The UK operator will be the minority stakeholder of the joint venture.

DB Schenker Rail is now embarking on a recruitment drive, aiming to hire more than 200 employees to look after rail operations and fleet maintenance.

The Etihad Rail network is planned to cover 1,200 kilometres, connecting UAE’s major ports, industrial zones and cities.

Phase one of the project will be partially completed by the end of 2013. The first freight trains are due to be operating on the line connecting the gasfields of Habshan to the port of Ruwais in October 2013.

Construction contracts for phase 2 of the project have yet to be awarded.

The Etihad Rail network will eventually form part of a wider GCC railway network, planned to connect all the GCC states.