Etihad Rail, the UAE’s national railway network developer and operator, has signed a $517m (AED1.9bn) loan agreement with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) for funding railway passenger transport services in the region.

This agreement was executed by Etihad Rail as part of the UAE National Railways Programme, where FAB agreed to serve as the Certified Lead Arranger for the loan.

It was signed by Shadi Malak and Hana Al Rostamani, CEOs of Etihad Rail and FAB, respectively.

Al Rostamani stated: “Etihad Rail is proof of the sense of vision and purpose that makes the UAE distinct. By connecting the United Arab Emirates through a fully integrated rail network, Etihad Rail will bring significant economic and social benefits to the businesses and communities it serves, empowering future growth and providing opportunities for all.

“FAB is proud to support Etihad Rail in fulfilling this important project, which will drive forward economic development for our nation.”

It is one of the three projects in National Railways Programme that was launched in December last year by the UAE Government and is said to be the largest land transport system in the UAE.

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Railway passenger services will link 11 cities and locations from Al Sila to Fujairah.

The trains will move at 200kmph, enabling travellers to commute from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes. Each train will be capable of accommodating 400 passengers.

Etihad Rail is moving ahead for completing Stage Two of the UAE National Rail Network. The Stage One of the Network is already completed and has been operational since 2016.

Malak said: “Through this agreement, we will move full steam ahead with our mission to provide passenger railway services, which will bolster public transport system in the UAE and the wider region.

“Etihad Rail is an essential component of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) rail network, and this agreement brings us one step closer towards realising our strategic goals of strengthening the UAE’s reputation as a regional and global transport hub.”