Etihad Rail awaiting regulatory nod to start operations on Stage 1 - Gulf Business
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Etihad Rail awaiting regulatory nod to start operations on Stage 1

Etihad Rail awaiting regulatory nod to start operations on Stage 1

Authorities are also in the final stage of tender evaluation process for the second phase of Etihad Rail, an official said

Etihad Rail, the United Arab Emirates’ national rail network, is awaiting regulatory approval to begin operations in its first phase, a senior official revealed during the NATRANS conference.

The first phase of the $40bn rail project, which is 264 kilometres, has been in testing since 2013. But transport officials have said that the first phase of Etihad Rail will start operations this year.

“Etihad Rail is one of the largest and most ambitious projects ever undertaken in the UAE and excellent progress has been made to date,” said Etihad Rail’s regulatory affairs advisor John Thomas.

“Construction of the 264-km stage one line running between sources at Shah and Habshan, to the point of export at Ruwais in the western region of Abu Dhabi has been completed and our operating partner Etihad Rail DB has transported more than 2.5 million tonnes of granulated sulphur since September last year during the testing and commissioning and trial operations phases.

“As we look ahead, our focus is now on obtaining regulatory approvals to start full commercial operations on Stage One, as well as progressing stage two.”

Thomas said that Etihad Rail’s second phase will include connecting Abu Dhabi with Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat and Oman through Al Ain. It will also connect vital areas such as Mussaffah, Khalifa Port and Jebel Ali Port in Dubai.

Thomas added that the preliminary design and engineering for the second phase has been completed and the tender process for six construction packages is in the final stages of evaluation.

The tender packages, which were recently re-issued following further project studies, include signalling, project management consultancy and construction of railway lines in the second phase.

“We are currently in the final stages of the tender evaluation process and recommendations will be presented to Etihad Rail ‘s board before the end of 2015. In line with the procurement process, the final approval on the contract awards will then be given by our Abu Dhabi and federal government shareholders,” said Thomas.

“Stage two will represent a major step to link the UAE to the wider GCC rail network by connecting the country to Saudi Arabia and Oman, and initial construction is expected to commence soon after contracts have been finalised and awarded.”

The Etihad Rail network will span approximately 1,200 kilometers across the UAE, and provide both freight and passenger services.

However, UAE’s Minister of Public Works Abdullah Al Nuaimi told Gulf Business earlier this year that passenger rail services is not an immediate priority for the country. He did not entirely rule out passenger services but added that cargo transportation will be given importance.


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