OMAN Rail and Etihad Rail, the national railway developer and operator in the United Arab Emirates, have signed a $US 3bn agreement to design, construct and operate a 303km cross-border railway from the port of Sohar on the Gulf of Oman to UAE’s national network at Abu Dhabi via Al Ain.

Passenger trains will operate at up to 200km/h on the mixed traffic line, reducing journey times from Sohar to Abu Dhabi to 1h 40min, and from Sohar to Al Ain to 47 minutes. Freight trains will operate at up to 120km/h on the new railway.

Under the agreement, Oman Rail and Etihad Rail will form a jointly owned company, Oman-Etihad Rail Company, which will lay the groundwork and workplan for the project, including its financial mechanisms and schedule. The company will also handle design, development and operation of the rail network.

The Abu Dhabi government said in a statement that the railway will boost economic growth in both countries and improve the efficiency of the supply chain and facilitate cross-border trade.

“Adding a new railway capability to our logistics sector will offer trade and logistics companies outstanding investment opportunities and empower manufacturing and industrial activities to quickly expand beyond borders,” says Eng. Abdulrahman Salim Al Hatmi, group CEO of Asyad, parent company of Oman Rail. “The envisioned network will complement our comprehensive set of ports and logistics assets, augment our competitiveness and open faster access to global markets.”

Mr Shadi Malak, CEO of Etihad Rail, says the agreement heralds a new chapter of prosperity between both countries.

“The agreement outlines a strategic roadmap for a sustainable project which will contribute to bolstering the solid relations between the UAE and Oman, and will play an instrumental role in facilitating national and regional trade by connecting the UAE National Rail Network with Sohar Port,” Malak says.

Construction on the second phase of the UAE's national network is nearing completion. Connection of the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi (ICAD), the site of the largest inland rail freight terminal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the national railway network, earlier this month was the latest milestone for the project.

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