UAE's Etihad Rail on track to start ops by 2013-end
By: Shane McGinley
Etihad Rail, the state-backed firm building a $10bn railway network in the UAE, received it first locomotives in April and is on track to start operations by the end of the year, it has been announced.
“Looking at stage one alone, construction is well under way, the sleeper factory in Mirfa is fully functional, and wagons have already arrived. Our locomotives also arrived in April 2013, and we are on schedule for the first train to run from Habshan to Ruwais by the end of this year," Shadi Malak, Executive Director of Commercial and Operations, Etihad Rail, was quoted as saying by the WAM news agency.
The three-stage $10bn plan will lay 1,200 kilometre of track in a network that will connect Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras Al-Khaimah and Khor Fakkan by the year 2018.
“But this is just the beginning of a long journey as the Etihad Rail has big plans to connect the emirate to a wider international network from the Middle East to Europe and Asia in the long run,” the statement said.
The first trains will run from Habshan to Ruwais by the end of this year and some passenger trains will run between Abu Dhabi and Dubai once stage three is in place by 2018, the report said.
Stage two will connect the railway to Mussafah, Khalifa and Jebel Ali ports and extend to the Saudi and Omani borders, Malak said.
"Syria and Turkey are also target destinations, representing an important step towards a European connection. In the long term, this will include exploring the possibility of extending a link via Central Asia and China, as well as other dynamic Asian economies.
“Linking with Turkey's rail network through Jordan will give GCC member states access to the European rail grid,” Malak added.
In February, Etihad Rail secured $1.28bn of bank financing to build the first phase of the project. National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, HSBC Holdings and Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ arranged the five-year financing, Etihad Rail said.