Phase 2 of the UAE’s $11bn Etihad Rail project is close to being awarded.

Speaking at MEED’s Rail & Metro Summit in Abu Dhabi, Abdulrahman al-Janahi, senior development manager at Etihad Rail, said the technical evaluation of bids had been competed and the phase was “almost ready to go”.

Phase 2 will connect the major ports and cities in the UAE. The 628-kilometre rail line will link Ruwais in Abu Dhabi to Ghweifat on its border with Saudi Arabia.

The first section of phase 1, linking gasfields of Habshan to Ruwais port, is due to be completed and operational by the end of the year. Civil and tracks work for phase 1, worth $898m, is being developed by a consortium led by Italy’s Saipem. The other members of the consortium include Tecnimont, also Italian, and the UAE’s Dodsal Engineering and Construction

Al Janahi said that engineering and design work is starting on phase 3 of the project, which will cover a track connecting the network to the Northern emirates.

In August, Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Engineering won a multimillion-dirham contract to provide heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) works on Etihad Rail.

The railway will be 1,200km in length and form part of the GCC Railway Network.