Abu Dhabi: Etihad Rail, the master developer and operator of the UAE's Dh40 billion national railway network, yesterday awarded a Dh3.3 billion contract to Saipem, Tecnimont and Dodsal to carry out civil and track works that will connect the Western Region cities of Habshan and Ruwais by 2013 and Shah Habshan by 2014.
"The contract is for a first stage of the network and was awarded to a consortium comprising Italy's Sapiem, Tecnimont and UAE-based Dodsal Engineering and Construction," according to a statement by Eithad Rail.
The Dh3.3 billion contract comprises the design, procurement and construction of the railway infrastructure, in addition to the testing and commissioning on a design and build basis of all assets relating to the completion of the first phase of the project, the statement said.
Nasser Al Suwaidi, chairman of the board of directors of Etihad Rail, said: "The successful joint venture was selected by way of a competitive tendering process, following an international-standard process of prequalification, shortlisting and tendering, which commenced in the last quarter of 2010."
Al Suwaidi added that the contract includes the earthworks and track's site grading, bridge structures, communication systems, and the development of the depot at Mirfa.
Richard Bowker, Etihad Rail CEO, said: "This milestone contract truly marks the start of the realisation of a national railway network on the ground and beyond the planning stages. Our landmark project is making massive progress and actual construction is now imminent. Our vision is becoming a reality and we're getting closer and closer to seeing the first trains run in 2013."
Paul Hooper, consultant of policy and regulations at the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport, told Gulf News that this network will help facilitate trade, open up communication channels and foster economic development.
"The network will also form a vital part of the GCC Railway Network linking Abu Dhabi with other emirates and the UAE with other GCC countries," said Hooper.
Fat'hi Ahmad Al Jahdami, managing director and CEO of Global Pyramids for engineering consultancy, said: "The network will also help decrease congestion and is in line with the economic vision of the UAE to enhance sustainable growth and save the environment."
It will help meet the plans and strategies to decrease fuel consumption and increase capacity with regard to cargo by lowering costs, added Jadhami.
The network will also link the UAE with Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat in the west and Oman via Al Ain in the east.
According to the statement, when the rail is completed, Etihad Rail's Dh40 billion, 1,200km network will connect urban and remote communities throughout the country.
It will be connected later to the GCC network when other states develop their rail systems. This is expected to offer greater connectivity among the residents of the GCC.