Etihad Rail has awarded an AED1.5bn ($408m) tender for Package A of Stage Two for the UAE National Rail Network.

The tender has been awarded to a joint venture (JV) comprising China State Construction Engineering Corporation and South Korea-based SK Engineering and Construction.

Package A of Stage Two of the UAE National Rail Network links Ruwais with Ghuweifat, which is located on the Saudi border.

Under the scope of work, the JV will be responsible for design and construction, as well as civil and track works for the 139km-long rail network line.

“This initial link is just the beginning, as Etihad Rail expands its network to improve all aspects of freight transport across our border.”

Once completed, Stage Two will run for 605km from Ghuweifat to the Port of Fujairah.

The deals were signed by Etihad Rail CEO Shadi Malak, China State Construction Engineering Corporation Middle East president and CEO Yu Tao and SK E&C vice-president Hyuntae Nam.

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Under Package A, the focus will be on the design and construction of rail infrastructure, which includes earthworks, bridges, tunnels, animal crossing, track-laying and connecting with Stage One of the network.

The track will be constructed with 1.3 million tonnes of ballast, over 400,000 concrete sleepers and 33,000 tonnes of iron rail. The complete route will have standard-gauge double track.

Once complete, the 1,200km-long Etihad Rail project will connect the country’s principal centres of industry, manufacturing, production, population and import/export points.

Etihad Rail board chairman Sheikh Theyab said: “With the commencement of this first phase of Stage Two, we are reaching a major turning point in the transportation sector in the UAE and GCC.

“Pioneering and innovative, this initial link is just the beginning, as Etihad Rail expands its network to improve all aspects of freight transport across our border and around the region, placing the UAE at the centre of regional goods movement as a global logistics hub.”

Etihad Rail will award contracts for the rest of Stage Two over the coming months.