Etihad Rail

28 October 2013

The federal rail project will enhance the UAE’s position as a trade hub

Value: $1.1bn


Etihad Rail

Tel: (+971) 2 499 9999




Tel: (+971) 2 627 1500


Abu Dhabi is leading the GCC’s rail revolution with its AED40bn ($11bn) Etihad Rail project, formerly known as the Union Railway. The 1,200-kilometre line will link up major industrial zones, cities and ports in the UAE, and will eventually connect with the planned GCC railway. It is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

Phase one of the project is currently under construction. This line connects the Shah and Habshan gas fields to Ruwais port and is expected to be fully operational in mid-2014.

The railway will transport granulated sulphur on behalf of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc). It will also support the Ruwais refinery, which is undergoing expansion. The facility’s capacity is being increased to 800,000 barrels of oil a day, as part of Adnoc’s strategy to develop its downstream industry.

The first phase of the Etihad railway is being financed by an AED4.7bn ($1.2bn) loan from international and regional banks raised in early 2013.

A joint venture of US firms Parsons and Aecom was awarded the project management consultancy deal for the first phase. In October 2011, a consortium led by Italy’s Saipem and Tecnimont, and the local Dodsal Engineering & Construction won the civil engineering and tracks contract.

India-based PCM Strescon Ventures won the deal for the provision of the railway sleepers. They will be supplied from a purpose-built sleeper manufacturing facility.

Phase 2 will connect the major ports and cities in the UAE. The 628km rail line will link Ruwais to Ghweifat on the Saudi border.

A track running from Tarif to Dubai and Al-Ain will connect to the Omani border. The network will also link Musaffah port to the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi development, the new Khalifa port and Dubai’s Jebel Ali port.

Phase 2 will serve a wider range of industries than phase 1, providing transportation services for sectors such as cement, aluminium and steel, as well as transporting goods imported via the UAE’s main ports at Taweelah and Jebel Ali.

Once phase 2 is complete, it will help enhance the country’s position as a regional and global trade hub, with the railway supporting the UAE’s large port and airport facilities.

Phase 2 is still at the tender phase and bids for the design-and-build packages are currently under evaluation.

Consultants are also vying for the phase’s project management consultancy deal. Phase 2 is due to be operational by 2017.

Phase 3 of the rail network will connect to the northern emirates of Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah, and should be up and running by 2018.

Key dates

2009: Union Railway established

2011: Union Railway rebrands as Etihad Rail

2011: Phase 1 civil engineering and tracks contract awarded to consortium of Italy’s Saipem and Tecnimont and the local Dodsal in October

2012: Etihad Rail tenders first contracts for phase 2 in July

2014: Line from Shah and Habshan to Ruwais expected to be operational by middle of year

2017: Phase 2 scheduled to be finished

2018: Phase 3 due for completion

Source: MEED

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