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Abu Dhabi is leading the GCCs 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 facilitys capacity is being increased to 800,000 barrels of oil a day, as part of Adnocs 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 Italys 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 Dubais 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 UAEs main ports at Taweelah and Jebel Ali.
Once phase 2 is complete, it will help enhance the countrys position as a regional and global trade hub, with the railway supporting the UAEs 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 phases 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.
2009: Union Railway established
2011: Union Railway rebrands as Etihad Rail
2011: Phase 1 civil engineering and tracks contract awarded to consortium of Italys 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