A ground-breaking ceremony was attended by Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and chairman of Etihad Rail, as well as members of the company’s board of directors and CEO Mr Shadi Malak.

Etihad Rail awarded a joint venture of China State Construction Engineering Corporation Middle East and South Korea’s SK Engineering & Construction a Dirhams 1.5bn ($US 410m) contract to design and build this section of the network in March 2019.

“As 2020, the year of preparing for the next 50 years begins, we launch the construction works for this pivotal national transport project that will generate a paradigm shift in the country’s transport sector,” Al Nahyan says. “With this launch, we are witnessing a remarkable day for Etihad Rail as we witness the transition from planning and design to actual implementation of the project on the ground.”

The line will require 700,000m³ of ballast, require the removal of 30 million tonnes of earthworks and the installation of over 450,000 concrete sleepers supplied by Etihad Rail’s own manufacturing plant, which provides up to 45,000 sleepers each month. No completion date for the project was provided.

Freight facilities contract

In addition, following the ground-breaking ceremony, Etihad Rail signed a Dirhams 1.87bn contract with a joint venture of Larsen & Toubro and Power China International to construct freight facilities for the network.

The two companies will be jointly responsible for surveying, design, construction, equipment installation, testing and pre-commissioning of facilities at Ruwais, Industrial City of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Port, Dubai Industrial City, Jebel Ali Port, Al Ghayl and Siji, Fujairah Port and Khorfakkan Port. Each facility will be capable of loading and unloading freight from trains as well provide container storage and maintenance.

The port facilities will become the backbone of Etihad Rail’s network, offering local, regional and international distribution and logistics, with bonded storage and customs facilities on site. The other facilities will serve several sectors, including building materials, and will support the transport of more than 30 million tonnes of various raw materials from their source in the north of the country for use by the construction industry in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

This is the final contract for the 605km phase two of the national network, which will provide a double-track line connecting Ghuweifat with Fujairah and Khorfakkan on the UAE’s east coast and will form part of the Gulf Railway network.

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