The mostly Italian consortium led by Saipem has won the AED3.3bn ($898m) civil and tracks work contract for the first phase of the UAE’s $11bn federal railway contract.

The other members of the consortium include Tecnimont and the UAE’s Dodsal Engineering and Construction. MEED reported in early October that the consortium was the favourite to win the deal (MEED 5:10:11).

It is the first major construction contract to be awarded. In June, Etihad Rail received 12 bids for the deal.

The contract includes the design, procurement and construction of the railway infrastructure, as well as the testing and commissioning. In addition, the scope also involves carrying out the earth works and track site grading, bridge structures, communication systems and the development of the depot at Mirfa.

The work is expected to be complete by 2014.

“We are so delighted to announce today the appointment of the civil and track works contract for the first stage of the network.  This milestone contract truly marks the start of the realisation of a national railway network on the ground and beyond the planning stages,” says Richard Bowker, chief executive of Etihad Rail.

The first phase of the railway involves building a 265-kilometre track between the port of Ruwais and gas fields at Shah and Habshan. The first part of the work will involve building the line from Ruwais to Habshan, which will be able to transport 10,000 tonnes a day (t/d) of granulated sulphur. This will increase to 20,000 t/d when the line is completed to Shah.