$11bn Gulf rail scheme set to award second phase contracts

Etihad Rail, the state-owned client that is responsible for the United Arab Emirates’ $11bn contribution to the rail network that is to link all the Gulf states, is about to award contracts for the second phase of its construction programme.

Saif al-Mazrouei, Etihad’s acting chief executive, told reporters, "We’re ready to award them. It’s in finalising stages for funding from the government."

The rail system is being constructed in three phases from west to east. The first, which connects Abu Dhabi with the Saudi border and the Shah gas fields, is now complete and has begun operating trials. 

The second phase, which at 628km is the longest of the three, is expected to be funded by the UAE federal government, Mazrouei said. He declined to give costs for the project.

The Phase 2 project will connect the Mussafah port and industrial area and ports in Abu Dhabi and Dubai with the Omani border.

Phase 3 will link up the northern emirates to complete the network, which will cover about 1,200km. Eventually it will become part of the Gulf Cooperation Council rail system which will run between Kuwait and Oman, and possibly also Yemen at a later stage.

A consortium comprising Italy’s Saipem and Maire Tecnimont and UAE-based Dodsai Engineering and Construction was awarded the main civil and track works contract for phase one.

Earlier this year Etihad Rail created a joint venture with Germany’s Deutsche Bahn to operate the railway and act as consultant for the other stages.

It was announced at the end of last month that the UAE’s armed forces were to be used to protect stations and depots across the Etihad network. 

Under a memorandum of understanding signed between Mr Al Mazrouei and Major General Ishaq Al Blooshi, the UAE Armed Forces will provide security services to key sites across the 1,200-kilometre network in return for rail links to five key military logistics centres.

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