By Andy Sambidge
Technical, engineering studies now complete on 264km first phase in Western Region of Abu Dhabi
Construction work on the first phase of the UAE's rail network will begin this summer after tenders were issued last month, senior officials said on Monday.
Several technical and engineering studies as well as the design and alignments for the first phase have now been completed, Shadi Malak, Etihad Rail's executive director - Commercial, said.
"As we now move from the planning phase to the actual implementation of the first route, we look forward...to the first steps in the realisation of this flagship project," he added in comments published by state news agency WAM
His comments came following the visit of directors and senior executives of Etihad Rail, the master developer and operator of the network, to inspect sites for the first route in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi.
Construction of the 264km route that links Shah and Habshan to Ruwais is scheduled to begin this summer, the company said in a statement, with a completion date slated for 2013.
The section of the railway is being developed in partnership with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), which looks to use rail as a the main means of transporting granulated sulphur from Shah and Habshan to the port of Ruwais for export.
The rail company hopes to complete its AED40bn ($10.9bn) rail project in the next seven to eight years. The network, which will ultimately span up to 1,200 km (746 miles), would later link to planned regional lines.
Overseeing the first stage of the project, Faris Al Mazrouei, project manager, said a number of stakeholders had played a significant role in "overcoming specific challenges relating to sand dunes and quick sand".
The visit on Saturday was attended by Etihad Rail chairman Nasser Al Suwaidi and Mattar Al Tayer, vice chairman, as well as the CEO and other senior managers.
Etihad Rail, capitalised at AED1bn, is 70 percent owned by Abu Dhabi's government and 30 percent by the UAE federal government. It recently changed its name from Union Railway.