Abu Dhabi: A countrywide railway network in the UAE will be rolled out over the next 7-8 years, the chief executive officer of Union Railway Richard Bowker said here on the sidelines of an industry event late on Sunday.
"We will run a very disciplined, transparent and competitive process. It will begin by seeking expressions of interest, which will be followed by pre-qualification and later... by formal tendering. We will be doing that over the course of rest of the year," Bowker told reporters.
"We are about to start seeking expressions of interest. It will begin very shortly indeed," he added.
It's estimated that the proposed countrywide rail network will cost between Dh25 billion and Dh30 billion.
A trade delegation comprising US companies in rail transport, infrastructure and construction, intermodal and bulk shipping, and inland and naval port industries is currently in the UAE.
Its focus is the multi-billion dollar Union Railway project and the required infrastructure to integrate the railway into the UAE's transportation and shipping grid.
The Union Railway will extend up to 1,500km across all seven emirates. The railway will connect the UAE to Saudi Arabia via Ghhwaifat city in the west and Oman via Al Ain in the east.
The UAE plans to have its first operational railway track in 2013-14 and trains will transport granulated sulphur from the Shah and Habshan fields of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) to Ruwais, a senior Abu Dhabi government official said earlier.
The strategic initiative will support Adnoc's ongoing investment programme in the Shah and Habshan oil and gas fields and contribute to the development of the oil, natural gas and petrochemical industries in the country.
Additionally, it will help accelerate the development of the Western Region in line with Abu Dhabi Vision 2030.
Connecting the Shah and Habshan fields with Ruwais will add nearly 300km to the originally planned 1,100km national railway network. The freight transportation target for Union Railway in the first phase of operations is 30 million metric tonnes.
The UAE railway network will be built to international standards.
The trains will run at speeds between 80 km/h and 120 km/h for freight transport and between 160 km/h and 200 km/h for passenger service.
The Union Railway was established in 2009 under Federal Law No. 2 with a mandate to manage the development, construction and operation of the UAE's national railway.
- 1,500 kilometres covered by project in the UAE
- Dh25b expected minimum cost of Union Railway project
- 30m metric tonnes of freight targeted in first phase