The Etihad Rail wagons which arrived at Mina Zayed were designed with the highest available safety standards to accommodate the core purpose of Phase I of the Shah-Habshan-Ruwais rail line for the transport of granulated sulphur. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The UAE’s national rail network is unlikely to be impacted by delays in neighbouring countries’ rail networks, an executive at Etihad Rail said on Tuesday.

John Lesniewski, Director of Sales & Commercial Agreements, said Etihad Rail completed the first stage earlier than expected and will continue to push ahead on schedule.

Lesniewski was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the 8th annual Middle East Rail exhibition and conference in Dubai.

The first phase of the UAE rail network links Habshan and Shah in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region to the Port of Ruwais, where sulphur is loaded onto ships and exported.

The issue of delays was raised last week when Abdullah Bel Haif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Public Works & Chairman of the National Transport Authority (NTA), reportedly said other countries may be running behind schedule. He said the delays could impact the UAE network. However, on Tuesday he reversed his stance and told the media there are no delays.

Phase two of the Etihad Rail UAE network will connect Saudi Arabia to Dubai and Al Ain by 2018. Lesniewski said the second stage has been tendered and will be awarded by early second quarter 2014.

The final stage will be linking the network with the Northern Emirates. Lesniewski said engineering work on the final stage is likely to begin by the end of year with tendering to start in the first quarter of 2015.