A project to build a UAE rail network linking all seven emirates will get under way in 2008, with completion anticipated in 2012, according to a senior official at the Abu Dhabi Department

of Transport.

A search is under way to put consultants and legal advisers in place for the project, says the official. This should be completed in early 2008. A consortium of German rail firms has completed a feasibility study and the design for the network.

The 800-kilometre-long passenger and freight network is intended to reduce traffic congestion. When completed, it could link to the planned GCC railway.

No official cost for the project has yet been released but sources anticipate a figure close to $3,000 million.