DP World has identified a plot adjacent to Terminal 1 and close to Terminal 2 as a possible location for the terminal, which will allow an efficient transfer of containers arriving at the port to the railway. DP World will oversee the construction and operation of loading and unloading facilities, while Etihad Rail will build and own the railway infrastructure and also manage rail services to and from the terminal.

"This important MOU with DP World is a key milestone in securing Jebel Ali Port as an integral part of the Etihad Rail network, and marks a significant step forward in the network's overall development," Al Sowaidi says.

The terminal is expected to handle 5 million TEUs per year by 2030. A single Etihad Rail freight train will carry up to 260 TEUs, the equivalent of at least 130 lorries.

Construction is already underway on Etihad Rail's first railway line, the 256km link from the port of Ruwais to Habshan and Shan, which will ultimately be part of a 1200km freight and passenger network across the Emirates.

For in-depth analysis of Etihad Rail's development plans see the April 2012 issue of IRJ, p31.