Etihad Rail is planning to award the phase 2 contract of the UAE’s $11bn Etihad Railway project by the end of the first quarter of 2014.

“We have finished analysis of the bids and are planning to award the contract by the end of this year, or in the first quarter of 2014 at the latest,” said John Lesniewski, acting executive director for commercial, Etihad Rail, speaking at MEED’s Abu Dhabi 2013 conference held on 8-10 December.

Lesniewski said the rail company had received 13 responses for the second stage of the rail scheme when it was tendered in 2012.

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 the gas fields 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 & Construction.

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

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