UAE announces restart of Etihad rail scheme after 2 year hiatus
After two years of suspension, the UAE has announced that it will restart the US $25-billion Etihad rail project, which seeks to connect the countries major logistics hub via rail in preparation for a larger GCC Rail Network.
The announcement was made last week by Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Nuaimi, the minister for infrastructure in the federal government, during a press conference ahead of the Middle East Rail 2018 exhibition.
Details were thin on the ground, but Al-Nuaimi did say that tenders would soon be issued for project managers to oversee the work.
The government said consultants would be hired to update the design of the railway and open issue tenders to start construction “in the coming months”.
The work will mark the second phase of the project, with phase one already complete, linking Shah gas field with the port and refinery of Ruwais.
The second and largest phase will connect the railway to Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi, Jebel Ali Port in Dubai, and to the Saudi and Omani borders, a distance of about 650km.
The final stage will be a 279km extension to the northern emirates Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah, giving the UAE a 1,200km rail network.
According to plans put forward a few years ago by the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Etihad rail system will eventually be part of an integrated 2,117km rail network connecting Oman, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.
A question mark remains over those plans, which have faced financial and political delays.